The exact cause of vasculitis isn't fully understood. Some types are related to a person's genetic makeup. Others result from the immune system attacking blood vessel cells by mistake. Possible triggers for this immune system reaction include:

  • Infections, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • Blood cancers
  • Immune system diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma
  • Reactions to certain drugs

Blood vessels affected by vasculitis may bleed or become inflamed. Inflammation can cause the layers of the blood vessel wall to thicken. This narrows the blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood — and therefore oxygen and vital nutrients — that reaches your body's tissues and organs.

Oct. 08, 2014

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