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What is Vasculitis and
What Are the Types?

Vasculitis is an uncommon condition characterized by inflammation and necrosis of blood vessels and impaired blood flow. This multi-system inflammatory disease can cause serious blood vessel wall destruction, leading to perforation and hemorrhage into adjacent tissues. This can cause subsequent endothelial injury leading to thrombosis and ischemia/infarction of dependent tissues. When blood vessels are destroyed, the body becomes unable to deliver oxygen and nutrients to various tissues, resulting in tissue death. If left untreated, this condition can eventually cause damage to various vital organs in the body including the skin, kidneys, lungs, and brain. There are multiple distinct forms of systemic vasculitis. Each of these is uncommon and each presents with multi-system symptoms and non-specific findings.

The varieties are grouped by the size of the vessel they affect:

Large-vessel Vasculitis

  • Giant cell (temporal) arteritis
  • Takayasu’s arteritis

Medium-vessel Vasculitis

  • Polyarteritis nodosa
  • Kawasaki’s disease

Small-vessel Vasculitis

  • Wegener’s granulomatosis
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Microscopic polyangiitis
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura
  • Essential cryoglobulinemic vasculitis
  • Cutaneous leukocytoclastic angiitis

The Symptoms

Unfortunately, this condition does not present any one specific symptom. Typically, a person with this disease may break out in a rash, have headaches, or exhibit vague constitutional symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, fever, and weight loss. The disease can also present as a major event such as a stroke, bowel infarction, or pulmonary hemorrhage.

Finding a Diagnosis

Diagnosing this condition involves a range of tests. These may include tests to check for inflammation, organ involvement, immune complex formation and deposition, and ANCA-related vasculitis. Also tests to assess for concomitant infections may be necessary. X-rays, CT scans, nerve conduction studies, echocardiography, angiography, a tissue biopsy can help in the detection of this disease as well. Not all these tests may be needed on every patient, so each diagnostic process is tailored to specific patient needs.

Vasculitis Treatment

Treatment involves identifying and removing any inciting agents, like medications. Beyond that, typical treatment plans are aimed at addressing the primary underlying disease associated with vasculitis. Anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive therapy may prove beneficial in this process. To prevent complications like infections, osteoporosis, and atherosclerosis, blood pressure and lipids may have to be controlled.

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Treating Vasculitis In Thousand Oaks, CA

Vasculitis is a serious condition that needs prompt evaluation and treatment by a rheumatologist. At Cohen Medical Centers, our dedicated team is here to provide you with the care and attention you need in order to feel like yourself again. To learn more about our treatment options, call (805) 449-8781.

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