Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Hematology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Review

Hereditary angioedema: New therapeutic options for a potentially deadly disorder

Frank J Eidelman

Author Affiliations

Department of Allergy and Immunology, Medical Informatics, Cleveland Clinic Florida, 2950 Cleveland Clinic Blvd, Weston, FL 33331, USA

BMC Blood Disorders 2010, 10:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2326-10-3

Published: 14 May 2010


Although the biochemistry of hereditary angioedema (HAE) is fairly well understood today, the lag in diagnosis of a decade or more suggests that clinicians have low awareness of this disease. This lag in diagnosis and hence treatment certainly stems from the rarity and complexity of the presentation which can be easily mistaken for allergic and non-allergic reactions alike. The symptoms of the disease include acute swelling of any or multiple parts of the body. The attacks may be frequent or rare, and they may vary substantially in severity, causing stomach discomfort or periorbital swelling in mild cases and hypovolemic shock due to abdominal fluid shift or asphyxiation in the most severe cases. Given that these patients are at significant risk for poor quality of life and death, greater awareness of this disease is needed to ensure that newly available, effective medications are used in these patients. These new medications represent significant advances in HAE therapy because they are targeted at the plasma cascades implicated in the pathophysiology of this disease. The clinical presentation of HAE, overlapping symptoms with other angioedemas, and available therapies are reviewed.