Systemic vasculitis is a group of rare autoimmune disorders characterised by inflammation of blood vessels. It can damage blood vessels and keep them from carrying blood to body parts that need it.
There are many types of systemic vasculitis, which can affect many different parts of the body. It can range from mild to severe, or even life-threatening. Some examples include:
Vasculitis can also happen in people with another disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus.
Symptoms of systemic vasculitis vary from one person to another and depend upon the type of vasculitis and location in the body of the inflamed blood vessels.
Some common symptoms include:
In most cases, the cause is unknown. A combination of factors may put a person at risk of developing systemic vasculitis:
It can be difficult to diagnose systemic vasculitis as the symptoms are similar to those caused by a number of other illnesses. Your doctor will speak to you, perform a physical examination, and may order tests to help establish a diagnosis.
The tests used to diagnose systemic vasculitis depend on the type of systemic vasculitis that is suspected and may include the following:
Some of the symptoms of systemic vasculitis are also frequently seen among older people with cancers. Therefore, during the process of diagnosis for systemic vasculitis, the doctor may also speak to you about screening tests for cancers.
The treatment of systemic vasculitis will depend on the specific type of vasculitis and the areas of the body that are involved.
Treatment may include one or more of the following: