Autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis is defined as a condition that leads to the inflammation of the blood vessels. If left untreated, death occurs due to blockages in the vessels, that hampers blood flow to vital organs. In this articles, we are going to explore the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for this rare autoimmune condition which affects roughly one percent of the adult US population.
Autoimmune Inflammatory Vasculitis
As we’ve mentioned, autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis is a condition that affects the blood vessels. The autoimmune moniker refers to the fact that with the immune system compromised, your body will literally attack your blood vessels, which, in turn, causes inflammation.
In general, the term “vasculitis” defines not one, but an entire group of disorders that lead to the inflammation of the blood vessels. One of the most common causes of vasculitis is the so-called leukocyte migration (white cells that have a pivoting role in fighting against infectious diseases and everything that is foreign to the body).
The symptoms associated with autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis are as follows:
- Weight loss.
- A bloody cough.
- Abdominal pain.
- Bloody stool.
In order to effectively treat vasculitis, the physicians must identify the location and, of course, the cause. For instance, in the case of syphilitic aortitis, which is the third stage of syphilis, the aorta becomes inflamed, causing life-threatening blockages.
Now, depending on the blood vessels affected, vasculitis can be labeled as follows:
- Temporal arteritis or giant-cell arteritis if the conditions affect the blood vessels of the brain.
- Thromboangiitis obliterans or Buerger’s Disease – a progression form of inflammation that affects the medium veins and arteries found in patient’s hands and feet. Most cases are associated with smoking or using tobacco-based products.
- Behcet’s Syndrome, another inflammatory disorder that affects the small blood vessels of several body parts such as the mouth, eye, and groin area.
- Cutaneous vasculitis which affects the post-capillary venules. Can be identified by the palpable purpura (discolored spots on the skin that don’t go away even after pressure is applied).
The condition can be further classified depending on affected body parts, blood vessels, and histopathology.
Treatment Options in Autoimmune Inflammatory Vasculitis
Unfortunately, there is no cure for treating this condition. At present, the only acceptable treatment is dealing with symptoms as they surface. For instance, the attending physician could prescribe prednisone or other types of corticosteroids in an attempt to stem the inflammation.
At the same time, the patients will also be treated with cyclophosphamide, an immune suppression drug designed to deal with the condition’s autoimmune part.
Because the condition puts the patient at risk of infection, antimicrobial agents could also be prescribed. The most common is Cephalexin, an antibiotic employed to ‘mop up’ gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.
The more severe cases of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis could require medication used to treat rheumatoid arthritis such as azathioprine and/or methotrexate. On that note, the complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis included the blockage of blood vessels, which in turn, could lead to multiple organ failure. The condition becomes life-threatening if the aorta, the body’s largest vessel, becomes obstructed.
This type of complication usually requires immediate surgery. Called endovascular surgery, this kind of intervention is performed when imaging tests (angiographies) detect an aneurysm (bulging of the blood vessel). The surgeon will have to deal with an aneurysm and, of course, to unblock the affected blood vessel.
Other treatment approaches include the use of anti-B-Cell therapy and/or Cytoxin, two drugs commonly employed in the treatment of some forms of cancer.
Unfortunately, there is no standard out there when it comes to predicting the condition’s evolutions. In most cases, the disease can resolve on its own. There is still the possibility of remission. The patient can experience a speedy recovery if the condition is diagnosed and treated during its early stages.
Another long-term aspect is the condition’s chronicity. This means that the condition will never go away and a long-term medication strategy is required. Regrettably, some patients diagnosed with chronic autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis can sometimes fail to respond to treatment. There are two foreseeable accounts – disability or death.
There’s also the aspect of the side-effects of the meds used to treat the condition. For instance, long-term corticosteroids-based therapies could result in osteoporosis, diabetes, and weight gain.
Autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis is a condition that leads to the inflammation of the blood vessel due to the body attacking the blood carriers. If diagnosed in time, the condition is manageable. Left untreated, this form of vasculitis could result in disability and/or death.