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Inflammation of the blood vessels

A network of blood vessels extends over the entire body and supplies the organs with oxygen and nutrients. If the circulatory system is affected by a chronic inflammation (vasculitis), this can lead to extensive consequences.

With valculitis, an inflammation of the blood vessels, there is a distinction between two forms of the disease. Primary vasculitis appears as a disease in its own right, while secondary vasculitis is triggered by medications, infections or other diseases. For the first form the exact cause is not yet known. It is known, however, that sometimes vasculitis can be triggered by the antibodies of the host immune system: anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCAs). ANCAs are directed against netrophil granulocytes, a type of white blood cells. This results an inflammatory responses in the vessels.

The complex symptoms

Vasculitis can occur in people of all ages. The diagnosis is difficult because often multiple organs are affected simultaneously. Depending on in which organs the blood vessels are affected, very different symptoms can occur. In general, besides internists, specialists of various disciplines, such as dermatologists, neurologists or opthamologists, must be consulted in order to identify the complex symptoms as vasculitis. And that is vital, because without treatment the vascular inflammation can lead to death within months. Treatment depends on the organ involvement and the very different progressions of the disease and is directed against the inflammation and the immune system.

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