Hereditary angioedema: management of laryngeal attacks

BACKGROUND: Hereditary angioedema (HAE) patients suffering from laryngeal attacks in the United States faced severely limited treatment options until 2008. These potentially life-threatening episodes occur in over one-half of the patients affected by HAE during their lifetimes. Acute therapy had been relegated to supportive care, intubation, and consideration of fresh frozen plasma (FFP)–the latter with the potential for actually accelerating the speed and severity of the swelling.

METHODS: In this article we will review the recently approved and emerging HAE treatments that have evolved from the recognition that bradykinin generation is the fundamental abnormality leading to attacks of angioedema.

RESULTS: Acute therapy for laryngeal attacks will be discussed including purified plasma-derived C1 inhibitor (C1INH), recombinant C1INH, an inhibitor of plasma kallikrein (ecallantide), and a B2 receptor antagonist (icatibant). Prophylactic care has also been transformed from a reliance on attenuated androgens with their attendant side effects to C1INH replacement.

CONCLUSION: The arrival of these novel therapies promises to transform the future management of HAE.

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