What is vasculitis?
Vasculitis is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation and narrowing of blood vessels
(arteries, veins, and capillaries). Also known as angiitis or arteritis, vasculitis results in weak,
stretched, or narrow blood vessels. It is possible to develop Vasculitis at any age. Some forms
affect blood vessels that go to the skin, eyes, or brain. Other kinds may involve multiple organ
systems at the same time. Several of these general forms of vasculitis may be mild and not
require treatment. Serious cases can result in organ damage or even death.
How many types of Vasculitis exist?
Broadly there are about 20 different types of vasculitis. Each type disrupts blood flow to certain parts of the body, causing organs and tissues to lose their function as a result. Some of the common types of vasculitis are mentioned below:
- Behcet’s Disease: Behcet’s disease affects small to medium-sized blood vessels. The disease affects males and females equally, but tends to be more severe in men. Genital ulcers are one of the more common symptoms of this type of vasculitis.
- Cerebral Vasculitis: Inflammation of the small arteries and veins in the brain and/or spinal cord is found in this case. The inflamed vessel wall may prevent oxygen from reaching the brain, eventually resulting in strokes.
- Lupus Vasculitis: The condition is most commonly associated with small vessels, but it can also affect medium-sized vessels. There are many types of involvement, from a relatively mild inflammatory disease that affects small vessels or a disease that affects several organ systems.
- EGPA Vasculitis: Eosinophilic Granulomatosis Poly-Angiitis (EGPA), this type of vasculitis is extremely rare, and causes inflammation within small blood vessels. Inflammation may end up restricting blood flow, causing organ damage throughout the body if left untreated.
- Cryoglobulinemic Vasculitis: This disease is characterised by inflammation of the blood vessels mediated by immune complexes. Most commonly, it is seen in patients with hepatitis C as part of other diseases.
What are the main causes of Vasculitis?
Vasculitis disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly perceives blood vessels as
foreign invaders and attacks them. It’s not clear what causes this to occur. These conditions
may occur alone or in conjunction with other rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis,
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or Sjogren’s syndrome. A medication side effect or an
infection (hepatitis B or C) are other possible causes. Leukaemia and lymphoma may also be linked to vasculitis.
What are the main symptoms of Vasculitis?
Vasculitis symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening. Some people may have few
symptoms, while others may become very ill. Common symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Body Ache
Vasculitis disease also shows symptoms in different organs and body systems, such as:
- Skin – Purple or red spots, splotches, bruises, vasculitis rash on the skin.
- Lungs – Blood in the cough; shortness of breath.
- Gastrointestinal tract – Mouth sores; stomach pain.
- Nose, throat, and ears – Chronic sinusitis; middle ear infections
- Eyes – Light sensitivity; blurred vision; red, itchy, burning eyes.
Diagnosis and treatment of Vasculitis
Patients with vasculitis are diagnosed based on their symptoms, medical history, physical exam,
and laboratory results.
- Laboratory tests: A blood or urine test may reveal abnormal levels of certain blood cells and antibodies (proteins).
- Biopsy: The doctor performs a biopsy to detect inflammation or damage to an organ or blood vessel in an affected area.
The doctor may perform other tests and examinations depending on the patient’s symptoms,
including an angiography, echocardiogram, chest x-ray, lung function test, abdominal
Vasculitis is treated differently depending on the type, affected organs, and severity. It is
commonly treated with corticosteroids such as prednisone, prednisolone, and
methylprednisolone. In severe cases even corticosteroids fail to work. Anti-rheumatic drugs maybe the last resort depending on the severity of the condition.
To conclude, Vasculitis can range from benign to life threatening. All it needs is timely diagnosis and prompt treatment. At the CK Birla Hospital, we offer multidisciplinary services to treat various auto-immune diseases like vasculitis. By utilising the latest technology, they are able to offer our patients not only affordable treatment but also fast and reliable care. Owing to the complexity and location of the Vasculitis you will primarily seek the help of a rheumatologist followed by a cross departmental intervention by a specialist that would be able to deal with the organ under threat due to this autoimmune occurrence. This disease is manageable, all it takes is for you to reach out to a reliable healthcare partner. If you want to book an appointment with our rheumatologist, book an appointment with us here.
To cure vasculitis, early diagnosis, and treatment are essential. Besides closely following
prescribed treatment and taking medications regularly, the following steps can help cure
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Routine checkups
- Strengthening your immunity
Vasculitis can range from a minor skin problem to a more serious disease affecting the heart or
kidneys. Rheumatoid vasculitis, for example, is a serious disease. It affects a number of organs,
including the brain, the eyes, the heart, the lungs, and the kidneys.
Vasculitis can be life-threatening in its most severe forms. To prevent permanent damage to
tissues and organs, early diagnosis and treatment are essential.