Autoimmune Disease Treatable if Caught Early [Video]


An autoimmune disease that can affect blood vessels that took the life of Harold Ramis is treatable if it is caught early. Vasculitis occurs when the blood vessels, veins, capillaries or arteries become inflamed. The autoimmune disease causes the blood vessels to narrow and weaken, which can cause blockages. This inflammation causes a person’s organs and tissues to not get enough blood; this lack of blood can damage organs and tissues, which can sometimes lead to death. The disease can range from mild to life-threatening.

The Vasculitis Foundation says that the disease responds well to treatment if doctors catch it early. Vasculitis is treatable with a medication called Glucocorticoids; the medication is designed to reduce inflammation. This type of immunosuppresant drug has life-long┬áside effects so doctors might instead prescribe immune-suppressing drugs. When the disease is endangering the health of a person’s organs, Cyclophosphamide, the strongest form of immune-suppressing drugs, is prescribed. If the disease is less severe, doctors may prescribe immune-suppression drugs such as Azathioprine or Methotrexate A newer drug called Rituximab is used to treat more severe cases of vasculitis .

The symptoms of vasculitis can include loss of appetite, fever, weight loss, aches and pains and fatigue. People may also notice small red or purple bumps on their skin, bruises or hives. They may also experience more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath or symptoms of pneumonia. This disease also affects the gastrointestinal tract, the eyes, the brain or the nerves. This autoimmune disease is usually caught when doctors perform a tissue biopsy, run a blood test or take a certain type of x-ray that examines the blood vessels called an angiography.

If the disease is severe, surgery may be necessary. The person might get a vasular bypass graft, which moves blood flow away from a clot in a blood vessel, sinus surgery or a kidney transplant. Dr. Peter Merkel, the director for the Penn Vasculitis Center at the University of Pennsylvania medical school and rheumatologist said that some types of vasculitis can be caused by certain medications while others are caused by infections such as Hepatitis C. However, doctors do not know the cause for most of their patients who have vasculitis. The disease can also be part of other rheumatic diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors do know that certain genes are important to the disease and that it is seen as an autoimmune disease.

The autoimmune disease vasculitis occurs when blood vessels, arteries, capillaries and veins become inflamed. Even though the cause is not known, doctors do know that it can result from certain medications or illnesses. People might be given immune-suppression drugs to protect their organs from further damage or immunosuppresant drugs that help with inflammation. This disease is also treatable with drugs that address other autoimmune diseases. The Vasculitis Foundation says that if the disease is caught early, it can be treated. There are about 20 different types of vasculitis that can affect small arteries and major large arteries.

By Jordan Bonte

CBS News
CNN Health
International Business Times
American College of Rheumatology