- Julia Granchi
- From BBC News Brazil in Sao Paulo
Actor Ashton Kutcher, 44, has revealed that he is unable to see, hear and walk due to vasculitis, an autoimmune disease.
He spoke about his experience with the disease on “Celebrity-Proof: The Challenge” with National Geographic host Bear Grylls.
Kutcher said he was diagnosed with a form of autoimmune vasculitis, without specifying which one exactly, two years ago.
“Three years ago, I had a strange and very rare form of vasculitis, which impaired my vision, hearing and balance,” he said.
“You really don’t appreciate it [os sentidos] until you lose. Until you understand, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see again, I’ll be able to hear again, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk again. I’m lucky to be alive,” the actor told the show.
“Vasculitis means inflammation of the blood vessel wall. This can narrow the blood vessels and even close them, leading to a lack of blood in various organs,” explains Bruna Cho, MD, rheumatologist and professor of medicine at Positivo University in Curitiba. , Parana.
There are more than 20 types of vasculitis, and the actor did not specify which variant he had, saying only that it was a rare version of the disorder and that he had severe symptoms.
Some forms of vasculitis, explained rheumatologist Henrik Dalmolyn, of the Hoptel Moria Hospital, are mild and cause easily treatable symptoms, such as skin lesions.
“On the other hand, there are other types, which tend to cause more serious consequences, affecting the central nervous system, lungs, kidneys, eyes and auditory system. The more I participate, the more severe the condition.”
According to the doctor, in cases of vasculitis, the loss of movement is usually related to a variation that affects the central or peripheral nervous system, which contains nerves that travel to the extremities such as the legs and arms.
Types of vasculitis and their symptoms
The different types of vasculitis are characterized by the size and location of the affected vessels.
“Primary vasoconstrictors are those in which the blood vessels are the main target of disease. There is still a classification according to vessel size: large, medium, small, or variable vessels,” Chu says.
For these, there are no known causes.
There is also secondary vasculitis, as another health condition is responsible for this condition. “It could be another autoimmune condition, or a secondary infection, especially viral, such as hepatitis and even the Covid-19 virus, or medication or even contact with levamisole, a component of cocaine,” an example of Dalmolyn.
Common symptoms include skin lesions (eg, purpura, urticaria, rash), fatigue, weakness, fever, joint pain, vision changes (eg, pain and redness in the eyes), headache, nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and decreased malaise. Breathing, abdominal pain, kidney problems (dark urine), weight loss and nerve problems (numbness, weakness and pain).
How is vasculitis diagnosed?
Different types of vasculitis are diagnosed through laboratory blood and imaging tests.
“Diagnosis is not easy. It is based on symptom assessment and complementary tests and often we need to rule out other diseases with similar manifestations,” Chu explains.
Tests of the kidneys, liver and blood count (with antibody tests), as well as CT and MRI scans, may be used, depending on the symptoms presented by each patient.
How is the treatment done?
Vasodilators are mostly (in the absence of another secondary condition behind their appearance) chronic autoimmune diseases, that is, caused by the patient’s organism.
The main treatment for all subtypes is the use of immunosuppressive drugs, including, depending on the case, corticosteroids, immunobiological agents or conventional immunosuppressants, which help control the activity of antibodies that attack blood vessels.
In Kutcher’s case, the actor said it took about a year to recover, likely due to the severity of his symptoms. But those diagnosed with vasculitis need follow-up to the end of their lives.
Bruna Chu notes that “the response to treatment is best when the diagnosis is early, before the condition causes narrowing or blockage of the blood vessels.”
“In some cases, it is also possible to perform a treatment called the more dangerous and more resistant plasmapheresis, which removes circulating antibodies from the patient’s blood. But it does not offer a cure, it only helps for a certain period of time,” explains rheumatologist Henrik Dalmolyn.
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