Vasculits is an inflammation of the blood vessels in which tissue is damaged by blood cells entering the tissues. Vasculitis can affect small blood vessels (capillaries), medium blood vessels (arterioles or venules) or large blood vessels (arteries and veins). If a small blood vessel is damaged, it may bread and produce tiny areas of bleeding in the tissues which will appear as small red or purple dots on the skin. If a larger vessel if inflamed, it may swell and produce nodules which may be felt if the blood vessel is close to the surface of the skin. The inside of the tube may become narrowed so that the blood flow is reduced, or it may become totally closed (usually by a blood clot). If blood flow is reduced or stopped, the tissue which receives blood from the vessel begins to die.
LUPUS is known to cause vasculitis due to the immune reaction in LUPUS. LUPUS produces excess protiens called antibodies which bind to antigens in order to destroy antigens. This bonding is called "immune conplexes" and, unfortuantely in LUPUS, it does not serve the purpose that normal immune complexes serve.
In vasuclits caused by LUPUS, the antigens which cause the immune complexes are not known and often contain DNA and anti-DNA antigens, or Ro (also called SS-A) and anti-Ro antigens. A recently discovered antibody, ANCA (anti-netrophil cytoplasm antibody) has been found to cause vasculitis in LUPUS patients.
The symptoms of LUPUS Vasculitis differs depending upon what tissues are involved and how badly they are damaged. They can vary from occasional spots on the skin to serious systemic symptoms with major organ damage.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you consult your physician if you feel that you may have vasculitis because it can be mild to dangerous. Doctors who are trained to recognize vasculitis are: rheumatologists, internists, dermatologists, hematologists, nephrologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonogists, cardiologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists and infectious disease experts.
Some of the symptoms include muscle and joint pains, red or purple dots on the skin, small black spots around the ends of the fingers and toes, arthritis, numbness and tingling in the arms or legs, pneumonia-like attacks in the lungs, crampy abdominal pain.
Please visit: www.hamline.edu/lupus/articles/vasculitis for a more in depth description of symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and causes.
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