Monday, May 10, 2010

HHT

Since I am heading to an HHT center this week, I thought I would make a quick post about it. I get asked often about HHT, what it is, how if affects me, how it affected Sam and such. So...here is a SUPER BRIEF overview!!!


What is HHT?

A person with HHT has a tendency to form blood vessels that lack the capillaries between an artery and vein. The spot where the vein and artery are directly connected tends to be fragile and can rupture. Small vessel abnormalities are called telangiectasias. Large blood vessel abnormalities are called arterio venous malformations (AVM).

95% of people with HHT have telangiectasias in the skin of the hands, face and mouth. In my family this has resulted in frequent and severe nose bleeds. This seems to be one of the most frequent side effects of HHT. Luckily for me, my nosebleeds are never severe.


30% of people with HHT have one or more AVMS in their lungs. Both my father and I have PAVMs (pulmonary). The capillaries between a vein and an artery in the lung have function in addition to slowing down the blood in an artery before it enters the vein. These capillaries also act as a filter for impurities like air bubbles, bacteria and clots. The are supposed to purify the blood before it circulates to the brain. PAVMs above a certain size pose an increased risk for stroke or brain abscess.

But PAVMs are easily treatable. My father has had his treated once (if I remember correctly!) And I have had mine treated three times.
To treat a PAVM, the irregular veins are plugged with metal coils. (called embolization) It is often an outpatient procedure.



HHT & Pregnancy

The majority of pregnancies are safe for a mother with HHT. Due to a 60% blood increase in pregnant women, fragile blood vessels (like AVMS) are more prone to burst. In most cases, if the
PAVMs are treated, the mother is safe.


So this week I will get a brain MRI to check for AVMs in the brain, a chest CT to check for new or enlarged AVMS and a lung function test. I am praying all goes well!!! If the doctors see something they need to fix, I will have my veins embolized again. So please pray for good results!!!

And I will leave you with a few shots of the flowers on our deck!!! I love Spring!!!!

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