We learned in yesterday’s post that Polyarteritis Nodosa PAN is an digestive disease that is an autoimmune disorder. I didn’t go into detail about this disease in that post, so today I wanted to take a closer look.
Polyarteritis Nodosa PAN
This is a rare disease that results from blood vessel inflammation (“vasculitis“) causing injury to organ systems. The areas most commonly affected by PAN include the nerves, intestinal tract, heart, and joints.
PAN exclusively affects medium sized blood vessels.
Who does PAN affect?
People between the age of 40 years and 60 years are most often affected. Men may be affected more than women. In most cases, we do not know why people get PAN. Some cases of PAN occur in patients with chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus.
- feeling tired
- decreased appetite
- rapid and sudden weight loss
- skin rash or sores
- muscle aches
- joint pain
- abdominal pain
- blood in the stool
- flank pain
- testicular pain in men
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- difficult to treat hypertension (high blood pressure)
- numbness or tingling of the hands or feet
- sudden loss of strength in the hands or feet
Symptoms vary from person to person and not all symptoms are present in everyone with the diagnosis.
The diagnosis of PAN is based on:
- physical examination
- laboratory tests
- and specialized imaging studies
Since PAN often affects the blood vessels that supply the gut and kidneys, an angiogram (dye-based study of the blood vessels) may be needed to make the diagnosis.
In cases of PAN related to Hepatitis B, treatment often consists of:
- glucocorticoids (steroids)
- anti-viral medications
- and sometimes plasma exchange.
For the idiopathic (relating to or denoting any disease or condition that arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown.) form of PAN, treatment consists of:
- glucocorticoids (steroids, such as prednisone)
- and immunosuppressive medications that are used to suppress the immune system. These may include a chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide) or other medications such as methotrexate or azathioprine.
This depends on the clinical situation.
There is no cure for PAN but the disease and its symptoms can be managed. The long-term prognosis depends on the severity of the organs involved.
The goal of treatment is to prevent further progression and damage from the disease.