–Teresa, living with AHP

Living with AHP

Everyday living with AHP

AHP can interfere with your life with symptoms that can disrupt everything from sleep to the ability to work and socialise. People with AHP may live in constant fear of the next attack.1,2

Although this is a lifelong disease, it's important to know that there are things you can do to reduce your chances of attacks and have a better quality of life.3

Person diagnosed with acute hepatic porphyria

To help you have meaningful conversations with your doctor about AHP, a Doctor Discussion Guide is available that you can download and complete before your next doctor visit.

AVOIDING TRIGGERS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Common triggers for attacks are shown below. Since triggers can be different for every person, there may be others not listed here.3,4

Triggers to be aware of

BE AWARE OF:

  • The way some drugs in certain medication classes may affect AHP, including:
    • Seizure medications
    • Antihistamines
    • Hormones
    • Migraine Drugs
    • Sedatives

    Speak with your doctor if you have any questions about your medications and AHP and to identify which drugs could be suitable to you.

  • Hormone level fluctuations during a woman's menstrual cycle
  • Stress caused by
    • Infections
    • Surgery
    • Physical stress
    • Psychological stress3,5
Lifestyle triggers to avoid

TRY TO AVOID:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Fasting or extreme dieting3,6

Get the help you need

TALK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE TEAM

If you have AHP, it's important to keep communication lines with your doctor open. Sharing your symptoms and concerns can help them tailor a treatment plan that is right for you.


REACH OUT TO FAMILY

With a disease like AHP, it can be helpful if family and/or close friends understand the disease so they know how to best support you. Be sure to explain to the people close to you the importance of steps you're taking to avoid triggers.

THE FAMILY CONNECTION

When someone is diagnosed with AHP, it is important to tell family members so they can consider getting genetic testing. AHP is a genetic inherited disease, so family members of someone who has AHP may also have inherited the altered gene responsible for the disorder. While most people with an altered gene may never have symptoms, they are however at risk of having an attack, or at risk of complications associated with elevated levels of ALA and PBG.7 Knowledge of genetic risk of AHP may enable people to make informed decisions regarding lifestyle and medications with the intent to prevent attacks and complications of the disease.3 Therefore, family members of someone who has AHP may want to talk with their doctor about genetic testing for AHP.8

TALKING WITH OTHERS ABOUT AHP

Consider talking with family, friends, and possibly co-workers about AHP. Explaining AHP to them can help them understand the unique burden of this debilitating disease. It can be challenging but here are some tips than can make those conversations easier:

Person discussing acute hepatic porphyria with friends and family
  • Start by saying that AHP is real: Although rare, with painful symptoms that mimic other diseases, AHP is a real genetic disease that can disrupt one's daily life
    • Some may feel that a person with AHP is exaggerating or being overly dramatic. Explain to family, friends, and co-workers that AHP is a rare, genetic disease. It is often confused with other diseases. This can help them understand the unique burden of AHP1,3

Management options for AHP

People should always discuss management options with their healthcare provider. For people with AHP, there are also strategies that can help decrease the chance of having AHP attacks.3 In extreme cases, liver transplantation may be considered.10

MANAGING ACUTE ATTACKS

  • Severe attacks often require hospitalisation or urgent medical attention10
  • Attacks can be treated with intravenous therapy:
    • Intravenous means when a medicine is delivered directly into a vein11
  • Your doctor may also prescribe medications to treat specific symptoms of an attack such as beta-blockers for high blood pressure and rapid heartbeat, an antiemetic for nausea and vomiting, and pain medication11

BE AWARE OF POTENTIAL TRIGGERS

  • There are certain attack triggers, including:
    • Stress caused by infections, surgery, physical or psychological stress
    • Alcohol consumption and smoking
    • Fasting or extreme dieting
    • Hormone fluctuations
    • Certain medications known to be contraindicated in AHP11-13
  • Some drugs in certain medication classes are known to trigger attacks in people with AHP. Some of these include: seizure medications, allergy medications, hormones, migraine drugs, and sedatives.3,5 Talk with your doctor to review the medications you may be taking.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS OF AHP OR TO LEARN ABOUT MANAGEMENT OPTIONS FOR AHP.

More Helpful Resources

AHP = Acute hepatic porphyria; ALA = Aminolevulinic acid; PBG = Porphobilinogen

References: 1. Simon 2018 et al. Patient. 2018 Oct;11(5):527-537. 2. Naik H et al. Mol Genet Metab. 2016 Nov;119(3):278-283. 3. Anderson KE et al. Ann Intern Med. 2005 Mar 15;142(6):439-50. 4. Ventura P et al. Eur J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;25(6):497-505. 5. Bissell DM et al. N Engl J Med. 2017 Aug 31;377(9):862-872. 6. Balwani M et al. Hepatology. 2017 Oct;66(4):1314-1322. 7. Ventura P, et al. Intern Emerg Med. 2009;4:297-30. 8. Balwani M. Clin Adv Hematol Oncol. 2016;14:858-61. 9. Puy H et al. Lancet. 2010 Mar 13;375(9718):924-37. 10. Harper P & Sardh E. Expert Opinion on Orphan Drugs 2(4):349-368. 11. Pischik E & Kauppinen R. Appl Clin Genet. 2015 Sep 1;8:201-14. 12. Lin CS et al. Clin Neurophysiol. 2011 Dec;122(12):2336-44. 13. Whatley SD, Badminton MN. Acute Intermittent Porphyria. 2005 Sep 27 [Updated 2013 Feb 7]. In: Adam MP, Ardinger HH, Pagon RA, et al., editors. GeneReviews® [Internet]. Seattle (WA): University of Washington, Seattle; 1993-2019.

AS1-CEMEA-00141 September 2020