Mixed connective tissue disease can lead to serious complications, including:

  • High blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). This condition is the main cause of death in people with mixed connective tissue disease.
  • Interstitial lung disease. This large group of disorders can cause scarring in your lungs, which affects your ability to breathe.
  • Heart disease. Parts of the heart may become enlarged, or inflammation may occur around the heart. Heart disease is the cause of death in about 20 percent of people with mixed connective tissue disease.
  • Kidney damage. About one-fourth of people with mixed connective tissue disease develop kidney problems. Sometimes, that damage can lead to kidney failure.
  • Digestive tract damage. You may develop abdominal pain and problems with digesting food.
  • Anemia. About 75 percent of people with mixed connective tissue disease have iron deficiency anemia.
  • Tissue death (necrosis). People with severe Raynaud's phenomenon can develop gangrene in the fingers.
  • Hearing loss. Often unrecognized, hearing loss may occur in as many as half the people with mixed connective tissue disease.

Treatment side effects

Corticosteroids are commonly used to manage the signs and symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease. These medications are effective, but they carry risks.

Your doctor will likely monitor you for adverse effects, such as osteoporosis, muscle weakness and infection. You may need to take calcium and vitamin D supplements to help ease these adverse effects.

April 03, 2015