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Preventing an HAE attack.

Living with hereditary angioedema (HAE) can be hard, especially when you don’t know when an attack will come or what it will be like. You may have different HAE symptoms that change at times. Each HAE attack can also be different. And it’s not always easy to figure out what triggers (causes) an attack.

In HAE, something triggers a series of events that makes the body release more protein called bradykinin [bray-dee-ky-nin]. Bradykinin causes blood vessels to leak fluid. That fluid leaks into tissue and causes inflammation and swelling. Bradykinin causes blood vessels to dilate (get wider). Wider blood vessels help blood flow faster. But, it also leads to redness in the area. And bradykinin can make nerve endings more sensitive, which can cause pain.

Sometimes you may have a sense that an attack is coming. At other times, it comes as a surprise. When you don’t know what triggers your attack, its’s hard to know how to prevent one. It’s common to feel worried and anxious about preventing and predicting an HAE attack.

Common attack triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Minor trauma
  • Infection
  • Having a period
  • Doing certain activities

It can be helpful to try to find your triggers. For example, pay attention to what you were doing, or eating or feeling before each attack. Is there something common each time? Keep track of where the attacks happen and how bad they are. It helps to share what you learn with your HAE team.

An important way to help prevent an attack is to stick to your treatment plan. Many patients are prescribed medications to help prevent an attack. This is called preventive or prophylactic treatment. It may be used short-term only when you need it. For example, you may take a medication just before having a dental surgery or before going through something stressful. It may also be used long-term. This means you take medication regularly to help keep attacks from happening. There are different preventive (prophylactic) medications. Some are given intravenously (IV) into your vein. Others are given subcutaneously (sub-q) just under your skin every few days to every few weeks. Another comes as a pill you take every day. Talk to your HAE team about which medication is best for you.

Always know what to do if you have an attack. Common signs of an attack are tingling, tiredness, nausea, feeling like you have the flu or rash. Prevent a full attack by starting treatment early.

CVS Specialty® can help you stay on track and get the best outcomes from your HAE treatment plan. 

Call us at 1-800-225-5967 to speak to a pharmacist or nurse specially trained in caring for HAE.

This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about your medical condition and prior to starting any new treatment. CVS Specialty assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.