Did you know? Women are about 3 times more likely than men to develop giant cell arteritis.
Those over the age of 50 are more likely to be affected by giant cell arteritis.
01 | Introduction
Giant cell artertitis (GCA) is the inflammation of arteries, mostly in the scalp or the head. Inflammation causes blood vessels to swell and narrow. This restricts blood flow, including oxygen and vital nutrients, to reach body tissues. Please use this guide to understand the cause, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of giant cell arteritis.
02 | Cause
The cause of the blood vessel inflammation is not known. However, there are some factors that make one susceptible to giant cell arteritis. Risk factors include:
03 | Symptoms
Some common symptoms are related to polymyalgia rheumatic. In fact, nearly 50% of people with giant cell arteritis also have polymyalgia rheumatic. Symptoms may be severe in pain and may include:
When left untreated, it may prolong the symptoms and lead to permanent vision loss, aortic aneurysm, or stroke.
04 | Diagnosis
It may be difficult to diagnose giant cell arteritis due to the symptoms resembling other conditions. Consequently, your doctor may try to rule out other conditions. Some tests your doctor may use include physical examination, blood work, or imaging tests. The best way to confirm giant cell arteritis is by doing a biopsy of the temporal artery.
05 | Treatment
Treatment may begin immediately after diagnosis in order to prevent vision loss. Initially, high doses of steroids may be administered, but as inflammation of the arteries goes down, the dosage will be reduced as well. In addition to steroids, aspirin may be taken to prevent blood clots.
For more information on this and other rheumatic diseases, please visit http://www.rheumatology.org