According to a story from Healio, new guidelines for the treatment of different forms of vasculitis recommend the use of biologic therapies as a first-line option for certain patients. It can be a challenge for doctors who are unfamiliar with these diseases to know what the best options are, but these new guidelines can help steer inexperienced physicians in the right direction.
Vasculitis is a group of inflammatory disorders in which blood vessels are destroyed. Both arteries and veins can be affected. The cause of vasculitis can vary and is not always well understood in some cases. It can be caused by an infection and some cases appear to have a genetic component. It is regarded as an autoimmune disease, but the exact process that triggers an immune response is unknown. Symptoms of vasculitis include weight loss, fever, kidney disease, bloody stool, abdominal pain, skin conditions such as purpura, arthritis, vision loss, headache, stroke, high blood pressure, bloody cough, gangrene, and nose bleeds. This disease can cause significant system-wide effects that require prompt treatment. This treatment usually involves immunosuppressive drugs such as steroids in order to bring down inflammation. To learn more about vasculitis, click here.
An Alternative to Steroids?
The guidelines cover a variety of diseases that are categorized as different forms of vasculitis, such as Kawasaki disease, giant cell arteritis, Takayasu’s syndrome, and three different variants of ANCA-associated vasculitis. As the primary goal of treating vasculitis disorders is the suppression of immune system activity in order to bring down inflammation, steroids have historically been a common treatment approach. However, steroids carry serious side effects, especially with long term use. Therefore the recommendation for the use of biologics in some patients should be considered good news.
Steroid side effects include weakened bones, gaining weight, and mood problems. The use of biologics has the potential to allow patients improved quality of life. The recommendations also contradict similar documents from other organizations in certain ways, such as the recommendation of biopsies over ultrasound. These guidelines, which are still currently in the review stage, were first announced at this year’s annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. Official publication of the guidelines is projected for next spring.