Definition

Polyarteritis nodosa (PAN) is a blood vessel disease. Medium sized arteries become inflamed. Sometimes, smaller arteries are involved. This leads to problems with the organs.

Causes

The cause of PAN is unknown. The immune system attacks healthy arteries. This causes inflammation. It’s not known what causes the immune system to be overactive.

Risk Factors

PAN is more common in people aged 40 to 60 years of old, but it can happen at any age. It is also more common in men.

Your chances of PAN are higher if with:

Symptoms

PAN affects the whole body at the same time. Common problems include:

  • General:
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
    • Joint and muscle pain
  • Skin:
    • Rashes
    • Open sores
    • Small bumps under the skin
    • Bruises
    • Death of skin tissue
  • Nervous system:
    • Tingling, burning, pain, or numbness in your feet, hands, legs, arms, and face
    • Decreased alertness
    • Inability to think clearly
  • Gastrointestinal:
    • Belly pain
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea —may be with blood
  • Vision problems
  • Genital sores
Cut-Away View of Skin with Bruise
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Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. Your answers may point to PAN. There is no specific test that detects PAN. You may have:

Treatment

Early diagnosis and care may improve the outcome. Care may be aggressive. The goal is to reduce inflammation of the arteries to bring on a remission. Without care, the condition can lead to death.

Medicines will:

  • Ease inflammation in the arteries
  • Change how the immune system works
  • Help manage infections

Prevention

There is no way to prevent PAN since the cause is unknown.

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