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What is vasculitis?

Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels that can affect any blood vessel in any part of the body. The inflammation can be limited to one location within a blood vessel, or spread throughout an organ or tissue, so symptoms of vasculitis can affect every major body system. Vasculitis is not a disease, but a process that occurs in the course of many other diseases

and disorders.

Each of the vasculitis diseases (also, as a group, referred to as vasculitides) is defined by certain patterns of distribution of blood vessel involvement, particular organ involvement, and laboratory test abnormalities. There are a number of types of vasculitis. Some types of vasculitis are the result of an underlying disease, and these are known as secondary vasculitides. Others occur without a known cause and are called primary vasculitides.

Vasculitis can affect people of all ages. Some age groups are affected more than others, depending on the type of vasculitis. There also are geographical and ethnic differences in the incidence of vasculitis. For example, giant cell arteritis is the most common vasculitis in the United States, and Takayasu's arteritis is more common in Asian countries. However, all types of vasculitis are rare. Though some forms of vasculitis improve on their own, others require treatment - often including taking medications for an extended period of time.

More information on vasculitis

What is vasculitis? - Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels that can affect any blood vessel in any part of the body.
What causes vasculitis? - For many forms of vasculitis, the cause is unknown. For some types, however, infections may be the cause.
What're the symptoms of vasculitis? - General symptoms of vasculitis include fever, achiness, arthritis pain, appetite and weight loss, and low energy.
How is vasculitis diagnosed? - The types of vasculitis are distinguished by the type of blood vessel affected, the appearance of biopsy tissue of affected organs on light microscopy.
What's the treatment for vasculitis? - The goal of te treatment for vasculitis is to decrease the immune system's production of antibodies.
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