Vasculitis is an inflammation of blood vessels, characterized by changes in the walls of blood vessels that cause their thickening, weakening, narrowing and the appearance of cicatrixes.

There are many different forms of the disease. Some of them last for a short time /acute/ while others are long lasting /chronic/.

Vasculitis, also known as angiitis and arteritis, can be so severe that the tissues and organs supplied by the affected vessels begin to experience a lack of oxygen and nutrients due to insufficient blood supply.

This lack of blood can cause tissue or organ damage and even death.

The disease can affect anyone, although some types of angiitis are more common in certain groups of people.

Some forms of the clinical condition go away on their own, but others require treatment, including long-term medication.

What are the symptoms?

Clinical manifestations of the disease vary depending on the blood vessels of which organs are affected.

However, generalized symptoms such as:

also occur

• Fever;
• Fatigue;
• Weight loss;
• Muscle and joint pain;
• Loss of appetite;
• Numbness and weakness;

What are the causes?

Arteritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly recognizes blood vessel cells as antigens.

Antibodies are then formed that attack these cells as if they were infectious organisms such as bacteria or viruses.

Doctors are not always able to identify the specific cause, but it is believed that infections, certain types of cancer, disorders of the immune system, allergy can provoke the body’s abnormal reaction.

The affected blood vessels become inflamed, which can cause thickening of the layers that make up their walls.

This leads to a narrowing of the lumen of the vessel and, accordingly, the volume of passing blood decreases. In some cases, a clot may form in the affected blood vessel, blocking blood flow.

But sometimes, instead of narrowing, the walls of the blood vessel can weaken and form a bulge /aneurysm/, which is potentially life-threatening.

Angiitis of unknown cause, primary angiitis

In many forms of the disease, doctors cannot find a specific cause and therefore define it as primary.

Arteritis caused by another disease, secondary arteritis

Possible causes of inflammation of blood vessels in this case are:

• Infections – for example, most cases of cryoglobulinemia /a type of vasculitis/ are the result of infection with the hepatitis C virus, and infection with the hepatitis B virus sometimes causes polyarteritis nodosa, also a form of the disease.

• Diseases of the immune system – most often, angiitis is due to rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma;

• Allergic reactions – sometimes an adverse drug reaction can cause inflammation of the blood vessels;

• Cancers of the blood – lymphoma and leukemia can also cause an abnormal immune response against the blood vessels;

Treatment of vasculitis

The specific treatment depends on the form of the disease that the patient has developed, how serious the inflammation is, and what their general health is.

Some forms of arteritis are self-limiting such as Schoenlein Henoch Purpura.

Medications that are administered are:

Steroids to control inflammation – in most cases prednisone or methylprednisolone is given.

But the side effects of their use can be very severe and therefore a long course of treatment with them should not be prescribed;

Medications to control immune reactions – severe cases of vasculitis or in patients who do not respond to treatment are prescribed treatment with cytostatics, which destroy immune cells.

Examples of such medications are azatriopine and cyclophosphamide.

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