Hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia (HHT) has been reported rarely in people of African descent. The prevalence in the Afro-Caribbean population of the Netherlands Antilles is suspected to be high. A family screening in this population was done to arrive at a point prevalence and to identify patients with pulmonary involvement. By clinical history and physical examination, 219 persons over age twelve with a first-degree relative with HHT were screened. The diagnosis was based on the new diagnostic criteria [Shovlin et al., 2000]. Chest-roentgenogram and pulse-oximetry or measurement of arterial oxygen pressure were used to detect pulmonary involvement. HHT was diagnosed in 112 individuals (51%), with at least a point prevalence of 1 in 1,331 inhabitants of Curaçao and Bonaire older than twelve years. The diagnosis was uncertain in 27; this was partly due to the new stringent criteria. Epistaxis was present in 98% and telangiectases in 99%. Facial telangiectases were relatively rare due to pigmented skin. Pulmonary involvement was found in 28% with serious-mainly neurological-complications in 48%. The point-prevalence of HHT in the Afro-Caribbean population of the Netherlands Antilles is the highest known in the world. Pulmonary involvement in this population is not rare and causes serious complications.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.