Cryoglobulinemic vasculitis is damage or inflammation of blood vessels and surrounding tissues (vasculitis) that is caused by the buildup of abnormal proteins in the blood (cryoglobulins). Cryoglobulins have properties that cause them to thicken and clump together at cold temperatures. At normal temperatures, cryoglobulins do not clump together. However, when blood reaches temperatures below 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (normal body temperature), these proteins clump together and cause the blood to become thick. This leads to the deposit of protein clumps in blood vessels. Symptoms of cryoglobulinemic vasculitis can vary. Some individuals with cryoglobulinemic vasculitis may experience no symptoms at all while others may have many symptoms. Symptoms may include a rash on the lower limbs, joint inflammation (arthritis), abdominal pain, and kidney failure.
Cryoglobulinemic vasculitis typically occurs in people who are 50 years or older. The exact cause of cryoglobulinemic vasculitis is not known. However, it is known to be associated with an underlying diagnosis, such as hepatitis C, autoimmune disease and different forms of cancer. Diagnosis of cryoglobulinemic vasculitis may involve a biopsy of the affected tissue or organ, assessment of clinical symptoms, and laboratory tests to assess proteins in the blood. Addressing the associated condition is the most common and effective form of treatment. For severe forms, treatment with medications may be necessary. Talk with a physician about the right treatment for you.