02/24/2014 03:24 pm ET Updated Feb 24, 2014

Harold Ramis Dies From Complications Of Autoimmune Inflammatory Vasculitis: What Is It?


Harold Ramis -- who directed and wrote the beloved comedies "Caddyshack" and "Groundhog Day," and acted in and co-wrote "Ghostbusters" -- has died at age 69 from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, according to news reports.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Ramis experienced complications related to vasculitis in 2010 after developing an infection. He then experienced a relapse of vasculitis in 2011.

Autoimmune vasculitis is a rare condition where white blood cells, which are part of the immune system, attack the walls of the body's own blood vessels. When this happens, the vessels become inflamed and can swell, according to the University of North Carolina Health Care Kidney Center.

When the blood vessels become inflamed, blood flow can be blocked or limited, leading to weakening and bulging of the blood vessel. When this happens, the limited blood flow to organs in the body can lead to damage to the organs, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reported.

While the condition can be treated with medications and steroids, it can come back, according to the Mayo Clinic.