Hereditary angio-oedema in the Western Cape Province, South Africa
Background. Hereditary angio-oedema (HAE) is an autosomal dominant condition caused by a deficiency in the C1-esterase inhibitor protein, resulting in increased bradykinin release. It presents clinically with recurrent attacks of angio-oedema, commonly affecting the limbs, face, upper airway and gastrointestinal tract. Little is known about this condition in sub-Saharan Africa.
Objectives. To analyse and report on the clinical presentation and treatment of patients with HAE in the Western Cape Province, South Africa.
Methods. A retrospective analysis was conducted on a series of 60 cases of HAE seen between 2010 and 2015 at the Allergy Diagnostic and Clinical Research Unit, University of Cape Town Lung Institute, and the Allergy Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town. The findings in 43 cases of type 1 HAE are described. Parameters assessed included age, gender, age of diagnosis, duration of illness, family history, identifiable triggers, average duration of attack, number of attacks per year and type of attack.
Results. A total of 43 patients were included in this study. Of these, 65.1% (28/43) were female. The median age at diagnosis was 20 years (interquartile range (IQR) 10 - 27) and the median duration of illness 10.5 years (IQR 6 - 22). Of the patients, 62.8% (27/43), 32.6% (14/43) and 4.7% (2/43) were of mixed ancestry, white and black African, respectively; 51.2% (22/43) were index cases, with the remaining 48.8% (21/43) diagnoses via family member screening, 12 families making up the majority of the cohort. The mean (standard deviation) duration of an acute attack was 49 (25.8) hours, and 64.3% (27/42), 71.4% (30/42), 14.3% (6/42) and 88.1% (37/42) of patients experienced facial or upper airway, abdominal, external genitalia and limb attacks, respectively. Danazol for long-term prophylaxis was used in 21 patients, while C1-inhibitor concentrate (Berinert) was accessed for short-term prophylaxis in only four patients. Acute life-threating attacks were treated with fresh frozen plasma in 11 patients, and only four accessed icatibant. The mortality rate for the period 2010 - 2015 was 4.5% (2/43). The prevalence of HAE in the Western Cape was estimated to be 1:140 000.
Conclusions. HAE occurs in South Africans of all ethnicities, and life-threatening attacks occur in almost two-thirds of patients. Despite limited therapeutic options and very limited access to gold-standard therapies available in the developed world, our mortality rate is very low, with both the deaths related to inability to access emergency treatment rapidly.
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