Saturday, July 29, 2017

Lupus and the Heart



I learned a lot preparing for this post. I have been writing about how autoimmune disorders affect different parts of the body, but I didn't realize how lupus affects the heart. Most of know by now that heart disease can be linked with a diet high in processed foods, sugars and refined carbohydrates, lack of activity, and obesity. This is good news! With proper diet and exercise those who make the effort can make this bad situation better or reverse their condition. When an autoimmune reaction is part of the heart disease picture, the approach is more complicated. If the autoimmunity has destroyed enough tissue, it can be too late to reverse the condition and its symptoms. More and more people are being diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, so it is to be hoped that more doctors will screen for autoimmunity so an autoimmune heart condition can be caught in time to manage it.

What is heart autoimmunity?

The symptoms of an autoimmune reaction against the heart mimic heart disease symptoms. They include:
  • cardiomegaly (enlarged heart)
  • fluid retention
  • tiring easily
  • chest pain
  • breathlessness
  • palpitations
  • edema with exercise
  • and difficulty breathing.
An unmanaged autoimmune reaction to the heart can cause inflammation, scarring, and, in rare cases, sudden death. Also, poor heart function affects the lungs, liver, and other organs and systems in the body. Did you know that doctors in the standard health care model do not screen for autoimmunity until the end stages of disease when symptoms are severe. Fortunately, you can identify an autoimmune reaction before it's too late with a blood serum antibody panel.

What is a blood serum antibody panel?

This panel screens for autoimmunity against heart tissue by checking for myocardial (a protein the heart releases in response to stress) or alpha-myosin (cardiac tissue) antibodies. If these come back positive it's an indication the immune system is attacking heart tissue. If the condition is more advanced, you may be given a diagnosis of cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle. Be in control. If you know you have an autoimmune condition, share this with your doctor right away. You can take the steps to potentially slow or halt its progression through proven diet, lifestyle, and nutritional therapy strategies. You should also regularly monitor your heart health. 4 Ways Lupus can Affect Your Heart - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases Lupus Lupus can cause inflammation of the myocardium, the muscle tissue of your heart. The symptoms are:
  • chest pain
  • an unexplained rapid or irregular heart beat
  • shortness of breath
Myocarditis is often seen when there is inflammation in other muscles in the body.
Myocarditis is usually caused by a viral infection. A severe case can weaken the heart, which can lead to heart failure, abnormal heartbeat, and sudden death.
Symptoms include chest pain, abnormal heartbeat, and shortness of breath.
Treatment may include medication to regulate the heartbeat and improve heart function. In rare but severe cases, a device may be needed to help the heart function.
However, myocarditis can be caused by viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Because lupus itself creates an added risk for developing infections -- especially if you are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs -- you are at increased risk for this type of myocarditis.
Immunosuppressive drugs or immunosuppressive agents or antirejection medications are drugs that inhibit or prevent activity of the immune system.
Though serious heart muscle disease is not commonly caused by lupus, heart failure can occur if our heart does not have the strength to pump enough blood to the different tissues and organs. The most common way that lupus affects the heart is through inflammation of the pericardium, the sac that surrounds our heart. The symptoms of pericarditis that you may experience are:
  • sharp pain in your chest
  • occasionally, shortness of breath.
Pericarditis usually does not damage our heart’s ability to function because it does not directly involve the heart tissue. However, inflammation that is chronic (long-lasting) can scar the heart tissue, which can interfere with the heart’s ability to pump blood.
Pericarditis may be caused by a viral infection or heart attack. In many cases, the cause is unknown.
The most common symptom is sharp, stabbing chest pain that may travel to the left shoulder and neck. Pericarditis usually begins suddenly but doesn't last long.
Most cases are mild and usually improve on their own. Treatment for more severe cases may include medications and, rarely, surgery.

Endocarditis

The endocardium is the tissue that lines the inner walls of our heart and the valves that separate the heart’s different chambers. Lupus can cause inflammation of the endocardium. Lupus endocarditis usually causes the surfaces of the heart valve to thicken or develop wart-like growths (lesions). These lesions can become infected, a condition called bacterial endocarditis. A lesion also could break off and travel to the brain to form a blood clot. Both of these possibilities are potentially very dangerous.

Coronary Artery Disease

The usual cause is the buildup of plaque. This causes coronary arteries to narrow, limiting blood flow to the heart.
Coronary artery disease can range from no symptoms, to chest pain, to a heart attack.
Treatments include lifestyle changes, medications, angioplasty, and surgery.
When we have lupus, we are at increased risk for coronary artery disease. This is partly because those of us with lupus have more risk factors, which may include:
  • Hypertension from kidney disease or corticosteroid use
  • Elevated cholesterol levels from corticosteroid use
  • Type 2 diabetes from corticosteroid use
  • An inactive, sedentary lifestyle due to fatigue, joint problems, and/or muscle pain
However, even after taking these risk factors into account, those of us with lupus are more likely to develop atherosclerosis. We can help reduce our chances of heart attacks and other complications from coronary artery disease in several ways:
  • Control the risk factors
  • Control the lupus disease activity
  • Talking with our doctor about reducing or stopping corticosteroid use
A build up of cholesterol plaque in the walls of arteries causing obstruction of blood flow. Plaques may rupture causing acute occlusion of the artery by clot.
Atherosclerosis often has no symptoms until a plaque ruptures or the buildup is severe enough to block blood flow.
A healthy diet and exercise can help. Treatments include medications, procedures to open blocked arteries and surgery.
Lupus and the Heart - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases Source: http://www.resources.lupus.org/entry/heart-and-circulation

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

8 Autoimmune Disorders That Affecting Multiple Organs including the Musculoskeletal System

8 autoimmune disorders affecting multiple organs including the musculoskeletal system - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseasesIn my previous post I talked about autoimmune disorders that affect the hair and skin. Many of the autoimmune disorders affect multiple organs and the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system provides form, support, stability, and movement to the body. It is made up of the bones of the skeleton, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints, and other connective tissue that supports and binds tissues and organs together. Some of these autoimmune disorders are new to me and I want to learn more about them.

AI disorders affecting multiple organs including the musculoskeletal system

  • Lupus affects connective tissue and can strike any organ system of the body. Symptoms include joint inflammation, fever, weight loss and a characteristic facial rash.
  • Scleroderma affects the skin and other structures, causing the formation of scar tissue. Features include thickening of the skin, skin ulcers and stiff joints. Swelling of the fingers, intermittent coolness and blue discoloration of the fingers, joints freezing in permanent (usually flexed) positions (contractures), and damage to the gastrointestinal system, lungs, heart, or kidneys may develop.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis. Affects the joints. Symptoms include swollen and deformed joints. The eyes, lungs and heart may also be targeted.
  • Polymyositis is one of the inflammatory myopathies, a group of muscle diseases that involves inflammation of the muscles or associated tissues, such as the blood vessels that supply the muscles. Polymyositis usually does not affect most internal organs other than the throat and esophagus. However, the lungs and heart may be affected, causing abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), shortness of breath, and a cough.
  • Dermatomyositis Muscle weakness at the shoulders or hips.
  • Sjogren's Syndrome white blood cells can infiltrate and damage glands that secrete fluids, and sometimes other organs can be damaged. Sjögren's syndrome can dry out the mucous membranes lining the nose, throat, digestive tract, voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), airways of the lungs, vulva, and vagina. Dryness of the vulva and vagina can make sexual intercourse painful. Dryness of the trachea can cause cough. Nerve, lung, and other tissues may be damaged by the inflammation.
  • Relapsing Polychondritis is a rare disorder characterized by episodes of painful, destructive inflammation of the cartilage and other connective tissues in many organs. The ears or nose may become inflamed and tender. Other cartilage in the body can be damaged, leading to various symptoms, such as red or painful eyes, hoarseness, cough, difficulty breathing, rashes, and pain around the breastbone.
  • Eosinophilic Fasciitis  is a rare disorder in which the skin and tissue that lies beneath the skin become painfully inflamed and swollen and gradually harden in the arms and legs.

Populations Affected by AI Disorders affecting multiple organs including the musculoskeletal system

Populations affected by AI Disorders affecting multiple organs including the musculoskeletal system - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases

Lupus According to the Lupus Foundation of America, approximately 1.5 million people in the U.S. have lupus. People of African, Asian, and Native American descent are more likely to develop lupus than are Caucasians. Although it can occur in both men and women, 90% of people diagnosed with the disease are women.

Sjogren's Syndrome More than 200,000 US cases per year of Sjogren’s Syndrome. Sjögren’s syndrome can affect people of either sex and of any age, but most cases occur in women. The average age for onset is late forties, but in rare cases, Sjögren’s syndrome is diagnosed in children.

Rheumatoid arthritis About 1.5 million people in the United States have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Nearly three times as many women have the disease as men. In women, RA most commonly begins between ages 30 and 60. In men, it often occurs later in life.

Scleroderma The systemic form of scleroderma is thought to affect from 40,000 to 165,000 people in the United States. The disease is three to four times more common in females than in males. Scleroderma may occur at any age but the symptoms most frequently begin during midlife.

Dermatomyositis occurs in adults from the late 40s to early 60s, but can also occur in children. Females are most affected. Fewer than 200,000 US cases per year

Polymyositis (PM) is rare. Incidence is estimated to be somewhere between 1-8 cases per million people. Women are twice more likely to be affected than men. PM typically occurs during middle age and is rarely seen in people younger than 30 years.

Relapsing polychondritis occurs as often in men as in women. In a Mayo Clinic series, the annual incidence was about 3.5 cases per million.

Source: http://www.merckmanuals.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

7 Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Digestive Tract


Give me good digestion, Lord, And also something to digest; but where and how that something comes I leave to Thee, who knoweth best.                                                      Mary Webb
I hate it when any part of my digestive system isn't working properly. With Sjogren's I don't have saliva, so I have to drink large amounts of water with every bite. Sometimes I will drink two quarts of water just to make it through breakfast.

This also causes problems with swallowing. I will get food caught in my esophagus and it will try to come back up. The pain is excruciating when this happens. My chest, back, jaw, head hurt from the pain. I had to be hospitalized for a day. That was the most expensive piece of chicken I have ever eaten.

After I eat, sometimes my stomach will hurt because I had to drink so much water with my meal.
Enough about me. Let's look at the digestive system and the autoimmune disorders that affect the digestive track.
7 Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Digestive Tract - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases

The major parts of the digestive system:

  • Salivary glands.
  • Pharynx.
  • Esophagus.
  • Stomach.
  • Small Intestine.
  • Large Intestine.
  • Rectum.
  • Accessory digestive organs: liver, gallbladder, pancreas.
Parts of the Digestive Tract - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases

7 Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Digestive Tract

7 Autoimmune Disorders that Affect the Digestive Tract - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus The digestive system is responsible for extracting nutrients from the food you eat and ridding your body of waste products. Lupus can affect the entire digestive system, beginning with the mouth. People with lupus are prone to lesions on the inside of the cheeks, the lower lip, or the roof of the mouth. Certain medications prescribed to treat lupus can increase your risk for oral lesions. When the esophagus is inflamed, stomach acid can be forced back into the esophagus (acid reflux), causing heartburn and gas. It can also make swallowing difficult (dysphagia). 

Some people with lupus take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This can increase risk of bleeding ulcers in the stomach lining or where the stomach meets the bile duct, pancreatic duct, and small intestine (duodenum). Helicobacter pylori bacterium also can cause ulcers, a common problem for people with lupus. 

Inflammation can cause fluids to build up in the lining on the inside of the abdomen (peritoneum). Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and constipation. Lupus patients are at increased risk for inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Use of diuretics, immunosuppressants, or corticosteroids increases this risk. Digestive symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, and nausea. These problems can be aggravated by the use of corticosteroids or NSAIDs. Ulcers that form in the colon and rectum may cause bloody diarrhea. 

Polyarteritis Nodosa PAN is a multisystem disease that may present with fever, sweats, weight loss, and severe muscle and joint aches/pains. The disease can affect nearly any site in the body, but it has a predisposition for organs such as the skin, kidney, nerves, and gastrointestinal tract. 

Celiac disease Affects about 1 person in 200, occurs when a person becomes intolerant to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley products. In people with celiac disease, the ingestion of gluten causes the immune system to attack villi, the tiny structures lining the small intestine. 

Crohn's Disease This condition occurs when the immune system attacks parts of the digestive tract, causing inflammation, swelling, and even scarring. 

Ulcerative Colitis the "cousin" of Crohn's disease, and explains that it happens when the immune system attacks the lining of the rectum and colon, causing ulcers. The ulcers can then bleed and produce pus. 

Autoimmune Hepatitis Unlike most types of hepatitis, which are caused by viruses, autoimmune hepatitis happens when the body's immune system attacks liver cells, causing inflammation. 

Diabetes The partial paralysis of the stomach, which causes delayed gastric emptying. This delayed emptying is most often associated with poorly controlled diabetes.   

Source: 

Friday, July 14, 2017

July is National Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month





Each year at this time, we commemorate the estimated 300,000 children and their families in the United States who face the everyday challenges of living with juvenile arthritis (JA) and related diseases. Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions or pediatric rheumatic diseases that can develop in children and teens.

The various types of juvenile arthritis share many common symptoms, like pain, joint swelling, redness and warmth, but each type of JA is distinct and has its own unique characteristics and how it affects the body.



7 Common Types of Juvenile Arthritis - brendamueller.com - autoimmune disorders/diseases  

We need to remember that arthritis isn't only for adults. The young people in our community are living with autoimmune disorders, too.