Raynaud's disease

Raynaud's disease is a vascular disorder that affects blood flow to the extremities which include the fingers, toes, nose and ears when exposed to temperature changes or stress. It was named after Maurice Raynaud (1834 - 1881), a French physician who first described it in 1862.

THE SYMPTOMS INCLUDE SEVERAL CYCLIC COLOR CHANGES

  • When exposed to cold temperatures, the blood supply to the fingertips, toes, nose, and earlobes of Raynaud's disease patients is reduced and the skin turns pale or white (called pallor) and becomes cold and numb.
  • When the oxygen supply is depleted, the skin colour turns blue (called cyanosis).
  • These events are episodic and when the episode subsides, or the area is warmed, blood returns to the area and the skin colour turns red (rubor) and then back to normal, often accompanied by swelling and tingling. These symptoms are thought to be due to reactive hyperemias of the areas deprived of blood flow.

All three colour changes are present in classic Raynaud's disease. However, some patients do not see all of the colour changes in all outbreaks of this condition.

PRIMARY RAYNAUD'S (Disease)

Raynaud's disease (or "Primary Raynaud's") is diagnosed if the symptoms occur only by themselves and are not accompanied by other diseases. Primary Raynaud's often develops in young women in their teens and young adulthood. This form of Raynaud's describes 90% of all cases and is thought to be at least partly hereditary, although specific genes have not yet been identified.

SECONDARY RAYNAUD'S (Phenomenon)

Raynaud's phenomenon (or "Secondary Raynaud's") occurs secondary to many different causes:

  • The most common causes are connective tissue disorders such as systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma/systemic sclerosis/CREST syndrome, arthritis and many others.
  • Other disorders that can be causes include carpal tunnel syndrome and obstructive arterial disease.

In contrast to the disease form, this form of Raynaud can progress to necrosis or gangrene of the fingertips.

RISK GROUPS

  • Women are more at risk than men. Agegroup between 15 and 40 represents 75 % of all cases of primary raynauds.
  • Patients with secondary RP* can also have symptoms related to their underlying diseases. Other rheumatic diseases frequently associated with RP include systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren's syndrome.
    * RP is the initial symptom of 70% of patients with scleroderma, a skin and joint disease
  • Patients that have to take medications to shrink the blood vessels like Beta Blocker (to fight high blood pressure), Ergotamine (to help headaches and migraine), the pill, chemotherapie
  • Inhabitants of frost regions
  • Different professions:
    - Worker in a fishery (temperature differences and handling of ice and other frozen products)
    - Men that work with vibrating technical support and machines
    - Men that are frequently in contact with plastic and vinylchlorid develop often the secondary Raynaud’s in connection with Scleroderma
    - Men with a repeat, monotone physical activity of the fingers ( musicians)
    - People that have suffered in the past from an electro shock or a frostbite.

HEALTH RECOMMENDATION

Prevention

Patients with Raynaud's disease are advised to keep warm by wearing gloves and socks.

They should also avoid stress, medicines that can constrict blood vessels such as decongestants and touching cold objects.

Patients are also advised to avoid foods and activities that may constrict blood vessels such as drinking caffeinated drinks and smoking.

Avoiding artificially cold environments, such as refrigerated or highly air conditioned spaces can also help prevent episodes from occurring.

Regular exercising helps raising the body temperature, weight control, relaxation and the physical and psychological well-being.

Vitamins and mineral antioxidants

Multiple studies have shown that people with a vitamine C and selenium deficiency suffering from a secondary Raynaud’s, develop often irreparabel tissue damages. The higher the deficiency of selenium and Vitamin C1, the more serious is the disease developped.

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