Vasculitides are a heterogeneous group of inflammatory diseases that affect blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries. The inflammation can cause damage to the blood vessel wall and compromise blood flow to affected organs. The diagnosis and treatment of vasculitis can be complex, since there are multiple subtypes with different clinical presentations and laboratory patterns. Classically, vasculitides are divided by the type of vessels they affect:

Large-vessel vasculitis: They mainly affect large-caliber arteries, such as the aorta and its branches. The most common type is giant cell arteritis, which occurs in people over the age of 50 and can cause headache, fever, weight loss, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Medium-vessel vasculitis: Affects medium-sized arteries, such as those that supply the gastrointestinal tract and lungs. An example of this type of vasculitis is polyarteritis nodosa, which can cause abdominal pain, weight loss, fever, and skin rash.

Small vessel vasculitis: Affects the arterioles, capillaries, and venules, which are the smallest vessels in the body. Examples of this type of vasculitis are granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis, both associated with the presence of anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) and which can cause symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, joint pain, skin rashes and problems kidneys.

Cutaneous vasculitis: They mainly affect the blood vessels in the skin and present as skin eruptions. Examples of this type of vasculitis are Henoch-Schönlein purpura and leukocytoclastic vasculitis, which are characterized by the presence of purpura (red and purple spots on the skin) and joint pain.

Treatment of vasculitis:

Treatment of vasculitis depends on the type and severity of the disease. In general, high doses of steroids and immunosuppressive drugs are used to control inflammation and prevent damage to affected organs. Other treatments, such as plasmapheresis and biologic therapies, may also be used, depending on the type of vasculitis and the response to initial treatment.