Vasculitis is a group of diseases that cause inflammation of blood vessels. Arteries and veins are impacted by these diseases and vary in severity.
Types of Vasculitis
The different types of vasculitis are generally defined by the affected organs and blood vessels, but may also be defined by other characteristics. Types of vasculitis include:
- Behcet’s Disease: Mouth ulcers, genital ulcers, and eye inflammation are the three common symptoms of this disease.
- Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (EGPA) and Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA): these conditions both affect the lungs, skin, kidneys, heart, and nerves.
- Giant Cell Arteritis: affects the blood vessels of the scalp around the eyes and primarily affects individuals over the age of 50.
Symptoms of Vasculitis
General symptoms that can be found in almost all forms of vasculitis are:
- Sudden muscle and joint pain
- Shortness of breath
- Numbness or weakness in hands or feet
- Lumps or sores on the skin
Other symptoms occur depending on the body part being affected.
Behcet’s disease symptoms include mouth and genital ulcers with eye inflammation.
Eosinophilic Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (EGPA) and Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA) have similar symptoms that include shortness of breath with chest pain and cough, rashes, and chronic sinus problems.
Giant Cell Arteritis symptoms include severe sudden headache, jaw pain, and vision loss on one side of the head.
Treatment for Vasculitis
Medications prescribed to treat vasculitis aim to suppress the immune system and control the inflammation. Corticosteroids are the first-line treatment for vasculitis, but other medications are required for long-term management.
Learn More About Vasculitis
Frequently Asked Questions
How is Vasculitis Diagnosed?
A rheumatologist will perform a physical exam and obtain a patient’s full medical history.
Additional diagnostic studies include:
- Imaging techniques (non-invasive): includes ultrasound, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT (computerized tomography), PET (positron emission tomography), and X-ray
- Blood tests: inflammatory markers and antibodies consistent with vasculitis
- Biopsy: involves testing a small sample of tissue from the affected area
- Angiography: an invasive imaging technique used to assess the integrity of the blood vessels
What are the Complications of Vasculitis?
Complications can include:
- Infections: Your immune system could be weakened by medications you’re taking to treat vasculitis, leaving you more susceptible to infections.
- Aneurysms or blood clots: rarely, vasculitis can cause weakening and bulging of blood vessels which can rupture or form pockets for blood to clot more easily.
- Blindness or vision loss: Vision problems could be caused by giant cell arteritis.
- Damage to organs: lungs, kidneys, heart.
Dr. Tamar Brionez
About Our Doctor
Dr. Brionez has more than 10 years of experience in diagnosing and treating rheumatic musculoskeletal disease and systemic autoimmune conditions. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences from Texas A&M University and completed her Doctor of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Additionally, she completed her Fellowship in Rheumatology at the University of Texas-Health Science Center. Dr. Brionez is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and has been in private practice since 2009.
Dr. Brionez is known for her dedication to her patients and her ability to diagnose complex conditions. She adheres to the highest standards of medical care while relying on cutting-edge technology and the most up-to-date medical research. Dr. Brionez has adopted a holistic view of her patients’ health and is considered a leading specialist in managing complex autoimmune disorders including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, scleroderma, osteoporosis, and many others. She is fluent in Spanish and is dedicated to hiring diverse staff to best meet her patients’ needs.