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Vasculitis

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Vasculitis is a disease that causes swelling of your blood vessels, which limits blood flow to tissues and organs throughout your body. It’s thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system attacks blood vessels by mistake.

Vasculitis can affect any of your vessels, including:

    Arteries: carry blood from your heart to your organs Veins: transport blood from your organs and limbs to your heart Capillaries: connect small arteries and veins

There are many different types of vasculitis, which affect people of all ages. Signs of the disease can come on quickly, over days or weeks, or develop gradually over a few months. Symptoms depend on the type of vasculitis, the organs affected, and the severity of the disease.

Typical general symptoms can include fever, general achiness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Other symptoms depend on the area of your body that’s affected, such as:

  • Brain: headaches, difficulty concentrating, changes in mental function, muscle weakness, or paralysis
  • Eyes: irritated eyes, light sensitivity, or blurred vision
  • Gastrointestinal tract: stomach pain or mouth sores
  • Joints: pain and stiffness
  • Lungs: shortness of breath or coughing up blood
  • Nerves: numbness, tingling, or weakness in different areas of your body; or shooting pain in your arms and legs
  • Sinuses: ongoing ear infections, sores in your nose, or hearing loss
  • Skin: red or purple spots, or lumps, hives, or bruises

Rheumatologists at University of Miami Health System have advanced experience diagnosing and treating scleroderma, which can often be difficult to identify when symptoms are mild or absent. We design a customized treatment to relieve your symptoms and give you comprehensive care. With locations throughout South Florida, you can get personalized treatment that’s close to home.

Why Choose UHealth?

The latest treatments for vasculitis. Our rheumatologists are also researchers, so you get care from specialists on the leading edge of autoimmune and rheumatic disease care. You get the latest approaches from an experienced team.

Comprehensive care from a team of specialists. Vasculitis can affect different areas of your body, so our rheumatologists work with doctors in a full range of medical specialties. You get comprehensive, coordinated care from dermatologists, gastroenterologists, cardiovascular specialists, pulmonologists (lung diseases), nephrologists (kidney diseases), ophthalmologists (eye diseases), neurologists, and others as needed.

Specialized care to improve your quality of life. We consider your lifestyle and changing needs to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you. You work with team that’s dedicated to minimizing your symptoms and improving your well-being.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.

Treatments

  • Medicines

    Doctors use a variety of medicines to treat vasculitis, including:

    • Corticosteroids: slow the body's immune response to relieve swelling and pain
    • Cytotoxic Medicines: destroy the cells that cause swelling
    • Disease-modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs): suppress the immune system broadly to prevent swelling
    • Genetically Engineered Biologics: a newer type of DMARD that targets specific immune functions
    • Immunoglobulin or Plasma Exchange: injected medicine that contains antibodies to help minimize swelling (only used in severe cases)
    • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): reduce swelling and relieve pain, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen sodium (Aleve)
  • Surgery

    In some instances, swelling of the blood vessel wall can cause it to weaken and bulge out, called an aneurysm. Your doctor may need to repair the vessel with surgery. Whenever possible, doctors use a minimally invasive approach using a catheter (thin, flexible tube) and specialized imaging equipment to perform surgery through small incisions.


Tests

  • Biopsy

    Your doctor may take a small sample of tissue from a blood vessel or one of your organs to confirm whether you have vasculitis.

  • Blood and Urine Tests

    Blood tests detect abnormal levels of substances in your blood that can help your doctor diagnose vasculitis and determine if it’s affected your organs. Tests can look for swelling (erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein tests) or antibodies that appear in certain types of vasculitis (antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies or ANCA). Your doctor may also analyze your urine (urinalysis) to evaluate your kidneys.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)

    An EKG is a noninvasive test that measures the electrical activity of your heart and your heartbeat. Your doctor may use this test to determine whether vasculitis is affecting your heart. During the test, a technologist attaches several adhesive electrodes to your body. The electrodes are connected to a machine that records your heartbeat.

  • Imaging Exams

    Your doctor may use imaging tests to examine blood vessels and different organs in your body, such as ultrasound (sound waves), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and X-ray exams. You may also undergo an angiogram, a type of X-ray that uses an injected dye during the exam to show blood flow through your vessels and locate abnormalities.

  • Lung Function Tests

    These tests evaluate your breathing and airflow, check for swelling in your lungs, and find any abnormalities in airflow in or out of your lungs.

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.