Systemic capillary leak syndrome (SCLS), also called Clarkson's disease, is a rare disorder characterized by massive leakage of plasma from blood vessels into nearby body cavities and muscles. The leakage is caused by a sudden and unexplained change in the capillary walls that allows fluid to leak out. Unless treated, this results in a sharp drop in blood pressure that can lead to organ failure and death.

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Early signs and symptoms of systemic capillary leak syndrome (SCLS) can be similar to those of a common cold, involving nasal congestion, runny nose or a cough. This may progress to lightheadedness, weakness, fatigue, nausea, and sudden swelling (edema) of the arms, legs and other parts of the body. Fluid may collect around the heart, lungs and muscles, causing a potentially dangerous situation. Fainting can occur due to a rapid drop in blood pressure from fluid leakage.

SCLS doesn't appear to be inherited. The causes are unknown, but one possibility includes the presence of a chemical that damages or temporarily separates the cells lining the capillary walls, making them leak fluid. Treatment may control the disorder for weeks or even years, but primary SCLS is unlikely to be completely cured. A long-term (chronic), less intense form of SCLS can cause frequent symptoms.

Nov. 20, 2012

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