Adult Vasculitis

What is Vasculitis?

Vasculitis, otherwise known as angiitis or arteritis, is a rare condition categorised as inflammation of the blood vessels. It is caused by a faulty immune system which attacks the healthy blood vessels, causing them to swell, thicken and narrow. This then creates restricted blood flow to the tissues and organs, meaning these organs are deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients. Vasculitis can affect one or organ or many; it can range from a minor problem to causing severe damage to the heart or kidneys.
Each type has its own set of symptoms. The different kinds of Vasculitis include:

  • Behcet's disease
  • Buerger's disease
  • Churg-Strauss syndrome
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Giant cell arteritis
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  • Henoch-Schonlein purpura
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Takayasu's arteritis

What are the related symptoms?

  • The symptoms common to most types of vasculitis include:
  • Fever
  • A headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • General aches and pains
  • Night Sweats
  • Rash
  • Nerve problems, such as numbness or weakness

What is the cause?

While the exact cause is unknown, it has been noted that the condition is triggered by certain medications, some types of infections, blood cancers and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma. Depending on the type and severity of the condition complications such as organ damage, blood clots, aneurysms, infections and vision loss are common and thus treatment needs to be aggressive.

How is vasculitis treated?

With Dr Griesel's expertise in this area, treatment may include immune-suppressing drugs to reduce the severity of the immune system's response, slowing the attack on the healthy blood vessels. Dr Griesel may also advise steroids called Glucocorticoids, which may help reduce inflammation of the blood vessels and restore adequate blood flow to the tissues and organs. In severe cases, vascular bypass grafting surgery may be needed to redirect blood flow of severely damaged blood vessels. In these cases, your physician may refer you to a vascular surgeon.