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Vasculitis Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. www.nhlbi.nih.gov Vasculitis is an inflammation of the blood vessels in the body. In vasculitis, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own blood vessels, causing them to become inflamed. Inflammation can damage the blood vessels and lead to a number of serious complications. Vasculitis can affect any of the body’s blood vessels. These include arteries, veins, and capillaries.
When a blood vessel becomes inflamed, it can:
Narrow, making it more difficult for blood to get through
Close off completely so that blood can’t get through at all (occlusion)
In rare cases, stretch and weaken so much that it bulges (aneurysm) and may possibly burst (aneurysm rupture) Normal artery Narrowed artery Totally occluded artery Aneurysm Artery Cross-Section