Buerger disease

What causes Buerger disease?

Buerger disease has a strong relationship to cigarette smoking. This association may be due to direct poisoning of cells from some component of tobacco, or by hypersensitivity to the same components. Many people with Buerger disease will show hypersensitivities to injection of tobacco extracts into their skin. There may be a genetic component to susceptibility to Buerger disease as well. It is possible that these genetic influences account for the higher prevalence of Buerger disease in people of Israeli, Indian subcontinent, and Japanese descent. Certain HLA (human leukocyte antigen) haplotypes have also been found in association with Buerger disease.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is Buerger disease?

Buerger disease is a disease in which small and medium-sized blood vessels in the arms and/or legs become inflamed and blocked (vasculitis). This reduces blood flow to affected areas of the body, eventually resulting damage to tissues. Symptoms of Buerger disease may include coldness, numbness, tingling or burning, and pain. Symptoms may first be felt in the fingertips or toes, and then move further up the arms or legs. Additional symptoms that may develop include changes in the texture and color of the skin, Raynaud's phenomenon, painful muscle cramps, swelling (edema), skin ulcers, and gangrene. Rare complications that have been reported include transient ischemic attacks or stroke, and heart attack.

Buerger disease almost always occurs in people who use tobacco, but it is not known exactly how tobacco plays a role in the development of the disease. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to Buerger disease. It is also possible that Buerger disease is an autoimmune disease, as the immune system seems to play a large role in its development. More research is needed to identify the exact underlying causes.

Quitting all forms of tobacco is an essential part of stopping the progression of the disease. There are no definitive treatments, but certain therapies may improve symptoms in some people. Therapies that have been reported with varying success include medications to improve blood flow and reduce the risk of clots, pain medicines, compression of the arms and legs, spinal cord stimulation, and surgery to control pain and increase blood flow. Amputation may be necessary if gangrene or a serious infection develops.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Are there products other than cigarette tobacco associated with Buerger disease?

Data is lacking regarding the association of Buerger disease with drugs or products other than cigarette smoking, however there have been case reports describing Buerger disease in patients who used other products alone or in combination with tobacco. You can search for these case reports through a service called PubMed, a searchable database of medical literature. Information on finding an article and its title, authors, and publishing details is listed here. Some articles are available as a complete document, while information on other studies is available as a summary abstract. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library (or your local library for interlibrary loan), or order it online using the following link. Using 'Buerger disease AND' followed by the name of the drug or product of interest as your search term should locate articles. To narrow your search, click on the “Limits” tab under the search box and specify your criteria for locating more relevant articles. Click here to view a search.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site has a page for locating libraries in your area that can provide direct access to these journals (print or online). The Web page also describes how you can get these articles through interlibrary loan and Loansome Doc (an NLM document-ordering service). You can access this page at the following link http://nnlm.gov/members/. You can also contact the NLM toll-free at 888-346-3656 to locate libraries in your area.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What diet is recommended for people with Beurger's disease?

We are not aware of any specific diet recommendations for people with Beurger's disease. However, the following healthy diet guidelines and tools may be of interest to you:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Choose My Plate

USDA Individual Dietary Assessment tools

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Nutrition Basics

Penn State Extension
Nutrition, Diet, and Health

Last updated on 05-01-20

How common is Buerger disease?

Buerger disease has become less common over the past ten years given the decrease in smoking prevalence and more strict diagnostic criteria. In 1947, it was estimated to occur in 104 out of 100,000 people. It now is estimated to occur in 12-20 out of 100,000 people.

Last updated on 05-01-20

How is Buerger disease treated?

Currently there is not a cure for Buerger disease, however there are treatments that can help control it. The most essential part of treatment is to avoid all tobacco and nicotine products. Even one cigarette a day can worsen the disease. A doctor can help a person with Buerger disease learn about safe medications and programs to combat smoking/nicotine addiction. Continued smoking is associated with an overall amputation rate of 40 to 50 percent.

The following treatments may also be helpful, but do not replace smoking/nicotine cessation:

Medications to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow (e.g., intravenous Iloprost)
Medications to dissolve blood clots
Treatment with calcium channel blockers
Walking exercises
Intermittent compression of the arms and legs to increase blood flow to your extremities
Surgical sympathectomy (a controversial surgery to cut the nerves to the affected area to control pain and increase blood flow)
Therapeutic angiogenesis (medications to stimulate growth of new blood vessels)
Spinal cord stimulation
Amputation, if infection or gangrene occurs

Last updated on 05-01-20

Where To Start

Buerger disease - Vasculitis foundation

The Vasculitis Foundation has an information page on Buerger disease. Click on the link above to view this information page.

Last updated on 04-27-20

Name: Vasculitis Foundation P.O. Box 28660
Kansas City, MO, 64188, United States
Phone: +1-816-436-8211 Toll Free: 1-800-277-9474 Fax : +1-816-656-3838 Email: https://www.vasculitisfoundation.org/contact-us-2/ Url: https://www.vasculitisfoundation.org/
Name: Vascular Cures 274 Redwood Shores Parkway, #717
Redwood City, CA, 94065, United States
Phone: +1-650-368-6022 Email: info@vascularcures.org Url: https://vascularcures.org/
Name: Society for Vascular Surgery 633 N. St. Clair 24th Floor
Chicago, IL, 60611 , United States
Phone: 312-334-2300 Toll Free: 800-258-7188 Fax : 312-334-2320 Email: vascular@vascularsociety.org Url: http://www.vascularweb.org/index.html

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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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