Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia is a disorder that leads to the development of a number of abnormalities in the blood vessels, which can affect various systems in the body. The nature of blood flow is that oxygen rich blood travels from the lungs to the heart and is then pumped to the arteries. This process involves high pressure so the blood is then able to travel to the arterioles and capillaries and effectively supply the tissues of the body with sufficient oxygen.
By this stage the pressure of blood flow should be much lower, so it can continue the cycle through the veins and back to the heart. However, in patients with hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, certain arterial vessels bypass the capillaries and send blood straight to the veins. The result is abnormalities that are known as arteriovenous malformations. The veins are not designed to handle the higher pressure due to lower elasticity, which leads to the blood vessels becoming enlarged.
Iron deficiency anemia is one of the recurring symptoms of HHT, brought on by epistaxis and GI bleeding. Iron supplementation can help. However, patients may require blood transfusions during the course of their life. Once you have been diagnosed with HHT, it is crucial that you begin management and treatment right away. The Vascular Birthmark Center can help by providing an evaluation and making treatment recommendations based on your individual needs. Most patients require a combined medicine approach to treatment, which requires a number of specialists working in sync to reduce the impact of associated risk factors.
Epistaxis is a secondary complication of HHT, which occurs on the nasal mucosa. Blood cells are caused to erupt due to dry air drawn in from the nose, resulting in recurrent nose bleeds. Over 90% of HHT sufferers are likely to experience epistaxis as the first and most frequent symptom, which means the other 10% may not even know they are suffering from HHT.
If you have a family history of HHT or related disorders, it is important that you and any children you may have are screened for the genetic component. Great work is being conducted to develop better treatment options for HHT. In the meantime, it is up to patients and their medical teams to effectively cooperate to ensure the condition is properly managed.
If your child has recently started suffering from recurrent epistaxis, contact the Vascular Birthmark Center for an immediate consultation. Early diagnosis is the key to fighting the impacts of HHT and any associated complications. Dr. Greg Levitin and his team are on hand to offer you all the advice and guidance you need for you or your child.