Anisha Dua, MD, MPH: What’s New in Vasculitis?

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Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, discusses the mimics, related conditions, and new diseases in the field of vasculitis as it relates to rheumatology.

Rheumatology Network interviewed Anisha Dua, MD, MPH, to discuss her Rheumatology Winter Clinical Symposium presentations “Vasculitis: mimics, related conditions, new diseases” and “What’s new in Vasculitis?” Dua is Associate Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology) at Northwestern University.

Missing a vasculitis diagnosis can severely negatively impact patients and create a multitude of downstream issues. To add to the confusion, there are an overwhelming number of diseases that mimic vasculitis in its manifestations, including the organs, skin, and other variables. Dua explains how she approaches the different vasculitities and takes a step back in the diagnosis process to ensure that any relevant mimics of vascular disease are not missed. In her presentation, she highlights the more common mimic of these rare diseases in order to help rheumatologists recognize them more easily and positively impact treatment strategies.

Dua states that rheumatologists are “know for finding zebras,” ie unusual diagnoses. Unfortunately, when examining these “zebras” it can be more difficult to fully identify the underlying condition. She emphasizes that examining patterns and using prior experiences is key.

She also highlights the vascular involvement in COVID-19 and how to differentiate between true vasculitis, which is inflammation of the blood vessels, and damaged blood vessels due to the virus. While they have similar clinical manifestations, they should be managed differently.

Innovations in vasculitis include the new American College of Rheumatology (ACR) guidelines, which have given clinicians the tools to better diagnose and manage complex patients. Other exciting developments include reducing glucocorticoid treatment, which cuts down on toxicities while still allowing patients to achieve and remain in remission.

“it's a very exciting time to be in rheumatology,” Dua stated. “Specifically in vasculitis, there has been a lot of international collaboration between different vasculitis centers so we're able to do larger, more impactful trials and get more data on these rare diseases. It can be really hard because they tend to be rarer compared with our other rheumatologic diseases.”

View the interview below: