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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency?

The first lung-related symptoms of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency may include shortness of breath, less ability to be physically active, and wheezing. These signs and symptoms most often begin between the ages of 20 and 40.

Other signs and symptoms may include repeated lung infections, tiredness, a rapid heartbeat upon standing, vision problems, and weight loss.

Some people who have severe AAT deficiency develop emphysema (em-fi-SE-ma)—often when they're only in their forties or fifties. Signs and symptoms of emphysema include problems breathing, wheezing, and a chronic (ongoing) cough.

At first, many people who have AAT deficiency are diagnosed with asthma. This is because wheezing also is a symptom of asthma. Also, people who have AAT deficiency respond well to asthma medicines.

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Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, visit

October 11, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.