What to Know About Lupus and Vasculitis

One typical blood vessel-related consequence of active lupus is vasculitis. Depending on which blood arteries are affected, symptoms might vary from headaches and skin problems to seizures and strokes.

Inflammation caused by the illness known as vasculitis might harm your blood vessels. Vasculitis can damage different blood vessels throughout your body, depending on its type. Vasculitis is an uncommon ailment of active lupus, while it is not prevalent in and of itself.

Consider discussing the following potential symptoms and indicators, along with your treatment options, with a doctor if you or a loved one has lupus and you're worried about the development of vasculitis.

What causes vasculitis in lupus?

Blood vessel irritation is known as vasculitis. Numerous factors can set up vasculitis. Vasculitis arises when your immune system targets your blood vessels in the context of lupus.

Vasculitis is categorised by doctors as either "primary" or "secondary." Since primary vasculitis lacks an underlying aetiology, it is idiopathic. Secondary vasculitis indicates a causative factor for the illness. Vasculitis risk is correlated with severe disease activity in autoimmune illnesses such as lupus.

Lupus vasculitis is the term used to describe vasculitis that arises as a consequence of lupus. Though it can affect any part of the body, the skin is usually affected first.

Other potential reasons for vasculitis in lupus patients include:
  • some drugs, like doxycycline and minocycline
  • other medical issues
  • infections

What are the symptoms of lupus vasculitis?

Vasculitis's general symptoms can include:
  • rashes
  • joint and muscle pain
  • fatigue
  • unintentional weight loss
  • fever
However, the specific form of vasculitis you have may affect a particular body region or system more than others in terms of signs and symptoms. Among these are your:
  • Skin: This is the lupus vasculitis kind that is most prevalent. It can result in bruises or ulcers, rashes that mimic hives, and discoloured patches on your skin. Additionally, some patients may get dead skin or black areas around their fingers or toes.
  • Joints: Heat, swelling, and joint pain can all be symptoms of vasculitis.
  • Brain: Seizures, headaches, and disorientation are possible.
  • Nerves: Damage to your peripheral nerves can cause symptoms including tingling and numbness in your hands, arms, legs, and feet.
  • Digestive system: If these blood vessels are affected by vasculitis, you might feel bloated and have pains in your abdomen. Stools that are bloody can also occur.
  • Lungs: Coughing and dyspnea are common symptoms.
  • Eyes: Loss of vision or fuzzy vision might be symptoms of ocular vasculitis.
  • Kidneys: High blood pressure could result from this.
  • Heart: Breathlessness or chest pain that gets worse when you move are possible symptoms.

How do doctors diagnose lupus vasculitis?

Examining your past medical records as well as your current symptoms and signs is necessary to diagnose vasculitis in lupus. Similar to lupus, vasculitis cannot be diagnosed with a single test.

First, a physician might prescribe:
  • blood tests
  • imaging tests
  • urine tests
  • biopsies to get tissue samples in the areas where symptoms first appear
Positive results from blood tests for antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies can also indicate lupus vasculitis.

What is the treatment for lupus vasculitis?

Treatment for lupus vasculitis is individualised. A physician will instead concentrate on treating the afflicted parts of your body. Steroids and other immunosuppressive medications that help stop your immune system from attacking blood vessels are common forms of treatment.

Not only may treating vasculitis make you feel better, but it can also lower your risk of problems.

It's crucial to stick to your doctor's prescribed treatment regimen if you have lupus. Even though using certain lupus drugs may make you more susceptible to vasculitis, you shouldn't stop taking them without first consulting a doctor.

What are the possible complications of lupus vasculitis?

The walls of the vessels thicken when vasculitis-related blood vessel inflammation occurs. This may weaken and constrict your blood arteries over time. This may therefore raise your risk of associated issues.

The following are typical lupus vasculitis complications:
  • restricted blood flow
  • stroke
  • aneurysms
  • blood clots
Due to the inefficient blood flow to the organs, harm may occur.

What is the outlook for people with lupus vasculitis?

The area of your body that is impacted by lupus vasculitis will determine how you will fare. The prognosis for vasculitis that affects internal organs, such as the digestive system or lungs, may be worse than that of other body parts.

One incredibly uncommon lupus consequence that affects the blood vessels in your gastrointestinal system is mesenteric vasculitis. A 2021 analysis found that about half of those who experience this condition pass away without receiving an early diagnosis and course of therapy.

Although medication can help you control your symptoms, long-term care is necessary for vasculitis because it is a chronic condition. Vasculitis may make your lupus prognosis worse if left untreated; this will depend on the level of inflammation and subsequent damage.


One of the most frequent side effects of active lupus is vasculitis or inflammation of the blood vessels. Vasculitis can cause a wide range of symptoms, depending on which blood vessels are involved, so it's crucial to let your doctor know about any strange symptoms you experience.

While there is no known cure for vasculitis, it is treated, much like lupus. Early intervention can help stop more issues related to the weakening and thickening of blood arteries.


Is lupus vasculitis serious?

Although vasculitis can be dangerous, most cases of it in patients with lupus and other rheumatic disorders are not.

Can you fully recover from vasculitis?

There is currently no cure for vasculitis

Is vasculitis common with lupus?

Vasculitis isn't the most common complication of lupus

Should I worry about vasculitis?

Vasculitis can cause a range of symptoms and possible complications.

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