Generally, within 10 to 20 years after the appearance of the first symptoms the person is confined to a wheelchair. Individuals may become completely incapacitated in later stages of the disease. Friedreich ataxia can shorten life expectancy, and heart disease is the most common cause of death.
Friedreich's ataxia is an autosomal recessive inherited disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. It manifests in initial symptoms of poor coordination such as gait disturbance; it can also lead to scoliosis, ( bending of spine ) heart disease and diabetes, but does not affect cognitive function. It is due to gene change in chromosome 9
No cures are possible for most patients who suffer debilitating movement disorders called cerebellar ataxias. But in a few of these disorders, patients can be effectively treated with regimens such as prescription drugs, high doses of vitamin E and gluten-free diets.