12) Symptoms due to increased blood viscosity
Blood has a degree of viscosity dependent on the number of cells and amount of protein present in the serum. Increase in the number of cells or proteins can cause hyper viscosity. In multiple myeloma, this results due to the excess protein produced by multiple myeloma cells. Increased blood viscosity present by:
- Headache and sleepiness: The explanation is that when the blood is viscid, the circulation becomes sluggish and not enough oxygen reaches the brain. This can also be associated with tinnitus – a persistent buzzing or ringing sound in the ears-.
- Chest pain: The chest pain associated with hyper viscosity is similar to that of angina and heart attacks. Sluggish circulation deprives the tireless heart muscle of the most needed oxygen causing the chest tightness felt in angina. This tightness or pain usually involves the entire chest and especially behind the breastbone, becomes worse on effort and is partially or completely relieved on rest.
- Calf pain: This condition is called intermittent claudication and is usually found in patients with vascular diseases. This also results from the inadequate oxygen delivery to calf muscles. It presents as a cramping pain on walking and is usually relieved on resting.
- Neurological problems: The same mechanism that caused heart attacks can cause strokes in hyper viscosity and presents by weakness on one side of the body, loss of sensation, inability to speak or numbness of the face, tongue and lips.
- Eye manifestations: Hyper viscosity can cause blurry vision retinal detachment, retinal bleeding and permanent loss of vision.