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Buerger's disease occurs predominantly in men aged 20 to 40 who smoke cigarettes. More recently, however, a higher percentage of women (5%) and people over the age of 50 have been recognized to have this disease. Although the mechanism of the disease is unknown, the relationship of smoking to its occurrence and progression is apparent. There is no documentation of occurrence in nonsmokers, implicating cigarette smoking as the primary cause. Recent work suggests that Buerger's disease may be a reaction to tobacco of persons with a specific genetic type or an autoimmune disorder with immune cell sensitivity to some collagen types, which are constituents of blood vessels.
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Autoimmune Disease: One of a large group of diseases in which the immune system turns against the body's own cells, tissues and organs, leading to chronic and often deadly conditions. Examples include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, Bright's disease and diabetes.
Claudication: Often Intermittent claudication: Condition caused by interruptions of blood supply to the muscles, characterized by limping and pain chiefly in the calf muscles: symptom characterized by pain during walking.
Collagen: The primary protein within white fibers of connective tissue and the organic substance found in tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, teeth and bone.