How Serious Is Mixed Connective Tissue Disease?
Mixed connective tissue disease is a chronic and progressive disease and can lead to various serious complications some of which are life-threatening. These complications are related to vital organs such as the heart, lungs, kidney, and nervous system.
Mixed Connective Tissue disease is a progressive disease and improper management may lead to the following serious complications:
Pulmonary Complications. Pulmonary arterial hypertension is the most common complication of this disease. Other pulmonary complications includes interstitial lung disease, inflammation of the lining of the lungs and difficulty breathing. Pulmonary hypertension is responsible for the highest deaths due to mixed connective tissue disease. Other diseases of the respiratory system include fibrosis, pleural effusion, and pleurisy.
Cardiovascular Complications. Regular monitoring of cardiovascular events are required to diagnose the disease as initial symptoms of these diseases are not present and may lead to fatal consequences in the late phase. Various complication of mixed connective tissue disease on cardiovascular complication includes hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, endothelial dysfunction, altered lipid profile, pericarditis, and oxidative stress. Risk of cardiovascular disease can also be increased through the treatment of this condition as it generally includes chronic use of steroidal medications.
Kidney Complications. Studies suggests that the disease in the kidney is normal during mixed connective tissue disease and may lead to chronic kidney disease. Another serious complication is scleroderma renal crisis, which is not common but a life-threatening condition. Nephropathy may also involve nephritis in this condition.
GIT Complications. The patient with mixed connective tissue disease has difficulty swallowing. The other symptoms include heartburn and esophageal aperistalsis. The complications also include abdominal pain and hemorrhage.
Necrosis. The mixed connective tissue disease is characterized by Raynaud’s syndrome. This condition is characterized by the reduced blood flows in peripheral organs especially on exposure to a cold climate. Thus, in severe conditions, the death of the tissues of fingers may take place and this process of tissue death is known as necrosis.
Neurological Complications. The neurological complication due to mixed connective tissue disease includes a headache, seizures and cognitive impairment. Depression and anxiety also are seen in some patients. Some patients also experience trigeminal naturopathy.
Treatment For Mixed Connective Tissue Disease
Following are the treatment options available to the physician to manage the symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease.
Pulmonary Hypertension Drugs. Pulmonary hypertension is the complication of mixed connective tissue disease with the highest mortality rate. Thus the management of this symptom is essential. The drugs used to manage pulmonary hypertension include bosentan and sildenafil.
Immunosuppressants. Mixed connective tissue disease is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system becomes overactive and kills the healthy cells of the body. Thus, medications are prescribed to suppress the immune system. Various drugs prescribed for suppressing the immune system include mycophenolate mofetil and azathioprine.
Antibiotics. Systemic infections are also caused due to mixed connective tissue disease. Various antibiotics such as ceftriaxone and amoxicillin are prescribed to keep the infection under check.
Calcium Channel Blockers. One of the major symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease is Raynaud’s syndrome. Thus, calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine are prescribed to manage the condition.
Antimalarials. Anti-malarials are effective in preventing the flare-up of mixed connective tissue disease. Hydroxychloroquine can be prescribed to prevent mixed connective tissue disease flare-up.
Corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are the drugs used to treat inflammation. They function by reducing the synthesis of inflammatory mediators. They also help in calming down the immune system and thus managing the symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease. It should be kept in mind that long term use of steroids may increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.
NSAIDs. Mixed connective tissue disease is also characterized by muscular and joint pain. To manage these pains, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. These drugs include aceclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
Mixed connective tissue disease is a serious condition which may lead to complications in various vital organs. Complications include pulmonary hypertension, seizures, cognitive impairment, interstitial lung disease, and pericarditis.