There is currently no cure for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, but there are ways individuals can mitigate their risk of developing disease as a result of Alpha-1. Following an effective treatment plan including augmentation therapy (if prescribed by a doctor), maintaining healthy lifestyle choices, and avoiding risk factors can help Alphas preserve their health and lead quality lives.
Augmentation Therapy for Alphas
Augmentation therapy infusions can supplement or augment the amount of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) floating in the blood and bathing the tissues of the body in individuals with Alpha-1-related lung disease. Although some individuals report that they notice improvements in their health when on augmentation therapy, and there is some evidence of a decrease in the number of lung infections in individuals receiving augmentation therapy, the primary aim of this therapy is to reduce the rate of decline of lung function towards normal and, therefore, improve the long-term quality of life and even the lifespan of individuals with Alpha-1.
Everyone loses lung function during their adult life, whether they have Alpha-1 or not. Alphas with lung disease lose their lung function at a more rapid rate than normal individuals. If augmentation therapy is effective, it will be expected to slow this increased rate of decline, regardless of the severity of the underlying lung disease.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Following a healthy diet, keeping active, and avoiding infections are great foundations for maintaining your health as an Alpha. Explore the Living with Alpha-1 topics below to learn more about how keeping healthy in all aspects of your life can help you avoid disease and live a quality life with Alpha-1:
Treatment Plans for Alphas
As an Alpha, your health should be a collaborative effort with your physician and healthcare providers. Whether you are a lung-affected or liver-affected Alpha or are currently asymptomatic, following a treatment plan as designed by you and your doctor will help you avoid disease.
Find sample Alpha-1 health plans for you and your doctor:
Avoid Alpha-1 Related Disease Risk Factors
Alpha-1 usually does not, in and of itself, cause disease of the lungs or other organs. Rather, Alpha-1 makes individuals more susceptible to the risk factors that have the potential of causing organ damage in anyone. Thus, while some individuals with Alpha-1 develop severe forms of liver and/or lung disease, others develop only mild symptoms. In fact, many individuals with Alpha-1 never develop any symptoms of these diseases. While some of this variability may be related to each individual’s total genetic makeup, the major influences on the development of disease appear to be exposure to risk factors that are entirely or partially controllable. Learn about Alpha-1-related disease risk factors:
For even more information about how Alpha-1 is treated and how you can stay healthy as an Alpha, please visit the Big Fat Reference Guide (BFRG). If you are enrolled in AlphaNet’s Subscriber Portal you can access the BFRG at subscriber.alphanet.org.