What Other Options for Scleroderma Are Available?

Heart Problems
About 15 to 20 percent of people with systemic sclerosis develop heart problems, including scarring and weakening of the heart (cardiomyopathy), inflamed heart muscle (myocarditis), and abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia). All of these problems can be treated with options ranging from drugs to surgery, and vary depending on the nature of the condition.
 
Kidney Problems
About 15 to 20 percent of people with diffuse systemic sclerosis develop severe kidney problems, including loss of kidney function. Because uncontrolled high blood pressure can quickly lead to kidney failure, it is important that you take measures to minimize the problem, which include:
 
  • Check your blood pressure regularly and, if you find it to be high, call your doctor right away.
 
  • If you have kidney problems, take your prescribed medications faithfully. In the past two decades, drugs known as ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, including captopril (Capoten®), enalapril (Vasotec®), and quinapril (Accupril®), have made scleroderma-related kidney failure a less-threatening problem than it was in the past. But, for these drugs to work, you must take them.
 
Cosmetic Problems
Even if scleroderma doesn't cause any lasting physical disability, its effects on the skin's appearance -- particularly on the face -- can take their toll on your self-esteem. Fortunately, there are procedures to correct some of the cosmetic problems that are caused by scleroderma.

(Click Scleroderma Causes for more information about the causes of this disease.)
 
The appearance of telangiectasias (small red spots on the hands and face caused by swelling of tiny blood vessels beneath the skin) may be lessened or even eliminated with the use of guided lasers.
 
Facial changes due to localized scleroderma, such as the "en coup de sabre" that may run down the forehead in people with linear scleroderma, may be corrected through cosmetic surgery. However, such surgery is not appropriate for areas of the skin where the localized disease is active.

(Click Localized Scleroderma for more information about symptoms associated with this type of scleroderma.)

Scleroderma Disease

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