Connective tissue disorders are a weakening of the blood vessel walls and other tissues. They can lead to serious health problems like aneurysm, aortic dissection, or rupture.
The experts at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute use the latest treatments to help people manage connective tissue disorders.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Your body’s connective tissue is the “glue” that connects, supports, or separates your organs and other structures.
Connective tissue includes:
Connective tissue disorders cause inflammation in collagen and elastin, two main types of protein that keep connective tissues strong. This inflammation can damage blood vessels, which consist of connective tissue.
There are more than 200 different types of connective tissue disorders, with different causes and symptoms.
Most connective tissue disorders fall under two main types: hereditary and autoimmune.
People inherit hereditary connective tissue disorders from one of their parents.
Types of hereditary connective tissue disorders include:
Doctors don't know the exact cause of autoimmune connective tissue disorders.
Some believe environmental factors can cause these disorders in people with certain genetic patterns. These factors make the body's own immune system attack healthy cells and tissues.
Types of autoimmune connective tissue disorders include:
Some causes of connective tissue disorders include:
Connective tissue disorders can occur:
People with a family history of connective tissue disorders may have a higher risk. If you are at risk, you should think about genetic counseling and testing in some cases.
Connective tissue disorders can weaken blood vessels and cause serious, even life-threatening health problems, including:
Symptoms of connective tissue disorders vary based on the specific type you have. In some cases, people don't have any symptoms until their 20s or 30s.
Some common symptoms can include:
To diagnose a connective tissue disorder, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask you about your:
Genetic blood testing is often helpful.
Each type of connective tissue disorder requires a specific treatment.
Some common connective tissue disorder treatments can include: