Healthcare Professionals

Could their Asthma or COPD be hereditary?

A physician’s guide to Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency

Knowing that your patient has Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency opens up a number of lifestyle and treatment options as well as avoidance of risk factors that can improve their quality of life.

Characteristics of A1AD

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (also known as A1AD, ­1ATD, AATD) is characterized most commonly by COPD in adults and liver disease in children and adults.

COPD, specifically emphysema, tends to occur much earlier and with less tobacco smoke exposure in individuals with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency; thus it is commonly misdiagnosed as difficult-to-manage asthma.

Smoking is the major factor influencing the course of COPD. The onset of respiratory disease in smokers with A1AD is between age 30 and 50 years; in non-smokers, the onset can be delayed to the sixth decade. Non-smokers often have a normal life span.

A1AD-associated liver disease, present in only a small portion of affected children, manifests as obstructive jaundice and raised serum aminotransferase levels in the early days and months of life or may be identified by the incidental finding of elevated liver enzymes in children of any age.

The incidence of liver disease increases with age; liver disease in adults, manifests as cirrhosis and fibrosis, and is not necessarily associated with a history of neonatal liver disease.

DISCLAIMER:This website is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your physician. It is not the intention of this website to provide specific medical advice but rather to provide the Canadian Alpha-1 Community with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorder. Specific medical advice will not be provided and Alpha-1 Canada urges you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.
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