What Is Amyloidosis, The Health Condition Pervez Musharraf Is Suffering From

Amyloid deposits can build up in the heart, brain, kidneys, spleen and other parts of the body.

Pervez Musharraf served as Pakistan's president from 2001 to 2008.

The family of former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf (retired) has said that he has been hospitalised for the last three weeks after his condition worsened. In a statement posted on Twitter on Mr Musharraf's official Twitter account, his family said that he is dealing with Amyloidosis and prayed for ease in his daily living.

"He is not on the ventilator. Has been hospitalized for the last 3 weeks due to a complication of his ailment (Amyloidosis). Going through a difficult stage where recovery is not possible and organs are malfunctioning. Pray for ease in his daily living," the tweet said.

What is Amyloidosis?

According to National Health Service (NHS) of the UK, Amyloidosis is the name for a group of rare, serious conditions caused by a build-up of an abnormal protein called amyloid in organs and tissues throughout the body.

Amyloid deposits can build up in the heart, brain, kidneys, spleen and other parts of the body.

The build-up of these protein deposits can make it difficult for the organs and tissues to work properly. Without treatment, this can lead to organ failure, the NHS further said.

Mr Musharraf was diagnosed with the life-threatening health condition in 2018 in the UAE.

What is the cause of Amyloidosis?

Amyloidosis may be secondary to a different health condition or can develop as a primary condition, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Sometimes it is due to a mutation in a gene, but other times the cause of amyloidosis remains unknown, it added.

Types of Amyloidosis

There are different types of the Amyloidosis, which are prevalent:

Light-chain (AL) Amyloidosis: It can affect the kidneys, spleen, heart, and other organs. People with conditions such as multiple myeloma or a bone marrow illness called Wadenstrom's macroglobulinemia are more likely to have AL amyloidosis.

AA Amyloidosis: It is caused by fragments of amyloid A protein, and affects the kidneys in about 80 per cent of cases. It can complicate chronic diseases characterized by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

Transthyretin Amyloidosis (ATTR): It can be inherited from a family member. Transthyretin is a protein that is also known as prealbumin. It is made in the liver. Excessive normal (wild-type ATTR) or mutant transthyretin can cause amyloid deposits.

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

Though there are some common symptoms of the disease, they vary greatly depending on where the amyloid protein is collecting in the body.

The general symptoms include (listed by Johns Hopkins on its website):

  • Feeling very weak or tired
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Swelling in the belly, legs, ankles or feet
  • Numbness, pain or tingling in hands or feet
  • Skin that bruises easily
  • Purple spots (purpura) or bruised-looking areas of skin around the eyes
  • Bleeding more than usual after an injury
  • Increased tongue size
  • Shortness of breath

As Amyloidosis progresses, the deposits of amyloid can harm the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, digestive tract, brain or nerves.

Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of Amyloidosis is hard, as the symptoms are generic. The doctors take a small sample of the tissue (biopsy) from the affected part to understand what kind of Amyloidosis is present. Depending on that, the treatment is done.

There is not currently a cure for amyloidosis. The amyloid deposits cannot be directly removed. So the doctors may discuss:

Chemotherapy, which is used to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing and similar method can be adopted to stop the growth of cells that are making abnormal protein.

Bone marrow transplant: In this procedure, healthy stem cells are taken from a patient's body. They are then infused back into their body to replace the unhealthy ones destroyed in chemotherapy.

There are some medicines too, which are used to treat Amyloidosis. These medicines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.

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