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What Is Amyloidosis, the Rare 'Protein' Disease Ex-Pak Prez Pervez Musharraf Is Suffering From? News18 Explains

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: June 11, 2022, 09:31 IST

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He was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease Amyloidosis in 2018 in the UAE. (Twitter)

He was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease Amyloidosis in 2018 in the UAE. (Twitter)

Amyloidosis is a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in organs and interferes with the normal function

Pakistan’s former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf is hospitalised in the UAE after his health deteriorated and is going through a “difficult stage where recovery is not possible", his family said on Friday amidst speculation about his condition. Gen. Musharraf, 78, who ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008, was charged with high treason and given death sentence in 2019 for suspending the Constitution. His family issued a statement on Twitter after rumours of his death started doing rounds on social media, and said that he is “not on the ventilator".

“(He) Has been hospitalised 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," Musharraf’s family said.

But what is Amyloidosis? News18 explains:

Disease Due to Abnormal Protein

Amyloidosis is a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in organs and interferes with the normal function.

Amyloid is not normally found in the body, but it can be formed from a variety of protein types. The heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system, and digestive tract are among the organs that may be affected, Mayo Clinic explains in a report.

Some forms of amyloidosis are associated with other diseases. These types may improve if the underlying disease is treated. Some types of amyloidosis can result in life-threatening organ failure.

Chemotherapy, similar to that used to treat cancer, could be used as a treatment. The doctor may advise the patient to take medications to reduce amyloid production and alleviate symptoms. Organ or stem cell transplants may be beneficial to some people, the report states.

Symptoms of Amyloidosis

According to the report, one may not experience signs and symptoms of amyloidosis until the condition is advanced. When signs and symptoms appear, they are determined by which of the organs is affected.

Signs and symptoms of amyloidosis may include:

  • Swelling of your ankles and legs
  • Severe fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath with minimal exertion
  • Unable to lie flat in bed due to shortness of breath
  • Numbness, tingling or pain in your hands or feet, especially pain in your wrist (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Diarrhea, possibly with blood, or constipation
  • Unintentional weight loss of more than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms)
  • An enlarged tongue, which sometimes looks rippled around its edge
  • Skin changes, such as thickening or easy bruising, and purplish patches around the eyes
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty swallowing

Types of amyloidosis:

AL amyloidosis (immunoglobulin light chain amyloidosis): This is the most common type and was previously known as primary amyloidosis. AL stands for “amyloid light chains," the type of protein that causes the condition. There is no known cause, but it occurs when your bone marrow produces abnormal antibodies that are unable to be broken down. It has been linked to multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. It has the potential to harm your kidneys, heart, liver, intestines, and nerves, according to a report by WebMd.

AA amyloidosis: This condition, formerly known as secondary amyloidosis, is caused by another chronic infectious or inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. It primarily affects the kidneys, but it can also harm the digestive tract, liver, and heart. This type is caused by the amyloid type A protein, which is denoted by the letter AA.

Amyloidosis caused by dialysis (DRA): This is more common in older adults and those on dialysis for more than 5 years. This type of amyloidosis is caused by beta-2 microglobulin deposits in the blood. Deposits can form in a variety of tissues, but they most commonly affect bones, joints, and tendons.

Amyloidosis that runs in families: This is a rare variant that is passed down through families. It frequently damages the liver, nerves, heart, and kidneys. Many genetic flaws have been linked to an increased risk of amyloid disease. An abnormal protein, such as transthyretin (TTR), could be the culprit.

Age-related (senile) systemic amyloidosis: This is caused by normal TTR deposits in the heart and other tissues. It is most common in older men.

Amyloidosis of specific organs: This results in amyloid protein deposits in specific organs, including the skin (cutaneous amyloidosis).

Though some types of amyloid deposits have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, amyloidosis, which occurs throughout the body, it rarely affects the brain.

What is Gen Musharraf’s Condition?

He was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease Amyloidosis in 2018 in the UAE. While it’s not clear which type of the ailment he is afflicted by, earlier reports have suggested he has suffered from neurological and cardiological problems for a while. A 2018 report by the Dawn had said that the former general’s condition had “weakened his nervous system".

Earlier, his close aide and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that General Musharraf is critical and on a ventilator support in a UAE hospital. He said that he spoke to Musharraf’s son who confirmed his illness. “Musharraf is critical as he is on a ventilator," Chaudhry told PTI.

However, his family later said the disposed general was not on a ventilator but on a stage where recovery was not possible and his organs were malfunctioning.

Reacting to reports, Ifzaal Siddique, the President of the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) Overseas — founded by Musharraf — said that the former president is little bit ill but fully alert. “General Pervez Musharraf is at home (a little) bit ill though, but fully alert as usual, please don’t listen to fake news. Just pray for his good health, Ameen," Siddique said. Musharraf has been declared a fugitive in former prime minister Benazir Bhutto murder case and Red Mosque cleric killing case.

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first published:June 11, 2022, 08:39 IST
last updated:June 11, 2022, 09:31 IST
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