Vasculitis: What is it? Epidemiology, Etiology and Causes



Vasculitis is defined as inflammation of the blood vessels and the effects may be transient or cause long-term damage to the vasculature.

Symptoms of Vasculitis

The types and severity of vasculitis symptoms vary widely depending on the affected blood vessels.

Any blood vessel in the body, including small and large arteries and veins, can become inflamed, causing the following symptoms. Fever, fatigue, weight loss, diffuse pain, oligoarthritis, neuropathy, decreased pulses, hypertension and blurred vision.


Vasculitis is infrequent. Around 3,000 people in the United Kingdom develop one of its various forms every year.


Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels, where the cause is still unknown. Sometimes it occurs due to a side effect due to the response of the body’s immune system to a recent or chronic infection. Secondarily, some medication, which may develop an allergic reaction.


Infectious causes

They are considered as those in which there is no direct invasion by pathogens in the vascular wall . The diagnosis of the skin lesion can provide information on what caliber of vessels may be involved.

The full story should be taken, in particular with respect to:

  • Duration of symptoms and signs
  • Recent illness
  • Recent exposure to medicines, vaccines and chemical products
  • Other symptoms – for example, arthralgia, cough, numbness and paresthesia
  • Detailed review of all systems
  • Considering the systemic nature of many vasculitic diseases, a complete physical examination should be performed including that of the Central Nervous System.


Idiopathic (45-55%). Infection (15-20%). Inflammatory disease (15-20%) – for example, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Drug-induced (10-15%) – for example, sulfonamides, beta-lactams, quinolones, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), oral contraceptives, anti-influenza vaccines. Chemical products such as insecticides and petroleum products.

Neoplastic (<5%) – for example, as a result of a paraproteinemia or lymphoproliferative disorder.
Classification. Several studies have been conducted to classify this group of diseases and several classifications are available today.