How Might aHUS Affect my Heart?

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by Mary Chapman |

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aHUS symptoms

Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) is a rare disease that affects the kidneys by causing abnormal blood clots to form in the kidneys’ small blood vessels. In some cases, aHUS can also affect the heart.

Multiple organs affected

In aHUS, blood clots can affect kidney function and lead to kidney damage. In fact, about 68% of aHUS patients need dialysis at some point in their lives.

Other common symptoms include anemia and low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). Between 10%–48% of aHUS patients have nervous system involvement.

Higher risk of heart complications

While aHUS affects multiple organs, kidney involvement is most extensively studied by researchers. However, some people with aHUS may also have heart issues. Chronic kidney disease patients overall are at higher risk for heart disease. In addition, a decline in heart function can affect lung function and vice versa.

About 60% of people with aHUS have the complement-mediated form of the disease. Among that group, heart complications occur in 3%–10% of patients.

Case study of failing heart function

A study published in 2019 in the Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports reported the case of a 24-year-old man with no history of heart disease who arrived at a hospital with acute shortness of breath.

Clinical examination revealed he was undergoing acute heart and kidney failure. His lab test results showed a low platelet count, low haptoglobin levels, low activity of complement proteins (C3, C4, and CH50), hematuria (blood in the urine), and proteinuria (proteins in the urine). Physicians suspected the patient had aHUS based on his clinical presentation, which was confirmed through a skin biopsy of a rash on his arm.

The patient was discharged from hospital after going into spontaneous remission with significantly improved kidney and heart function, and a normalized platelet count.

More research needed

Although scientists have established the overall relationship between the heart and kidneys, they say more research is needed to measure the epidemiology of cardiovascular events specifically in aHUS.

Prompt treatment crucial

People with chronic kidney disease often don’t know that they should contact their physician when they have symptoms that could be related to life-threatening heart complications. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial for positive outcomes, so contact your doctor if you have aHUS and experience heart symptoms.


Last updated: May 18, 2020


AHUS News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.