Medical Minute 9-27: Stopping the Swelling

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

Debbie and Mitch Humphreys are no strangers to the hospital cafeteria. She's spent most of her life in and out of doctor's offices.

"I first learned about it when I was 16."

Debbie has HAE -- hereditary angioedema -- a potentially fatal genetic swelling disorder.

"Both my feet have swollen up. Both my hands and my stomach and my throat. It's like a forest fire. It jumps around to all different parts of my body."

"It's like a Playtex glove. You blow it up."

HAE attacks the hands, feet, arms and legs, but the more dangerous attacks happen in the throat and abdomen. It's caused by a defect in the protein that controls inflammation.

"Sometimes, the attacks are totally unpredictable, so patients don't know when they're going to occur. In some patients, it is absolutely life threatening," said Mark Riedl, M.D., UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine Los Angeles, CA.

Traditional therapy was limited to steroids -- until new clinical trials began to stop attacks in their tracks.

"Both of these drugs, the protein concentrates and the kallikrein inhibitor work by stopping the pathway in the body that leads to the tissue swelling."

Recently, three new drugs were FDA approved: Some reduce the frequency and severity of HAE attacks by more than 50 percent.

"Patients no longer have to live with the fear that they could actually die from this condition."

"It stops the damaging effect it's having on her body."

And allows this couple to move their meals outside of the hospital.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:Mindy Huber, AssociateWCGmhuber@wcgworld.com

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