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Giant Cell Arteritis (a.k.a. Temporal Arteritis, Cerebral Vasculitis) Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy This disorder involves inflammation and damage to blood vessels, most commonly the blood vessels of the head, especially the temporal arteries that branch from the carotid artery of the neck. However, it can be systemic, affecting multiple arteries anywhere in the body. There is inflammation and necrosis (death of the tissues) of one or more arteries.

The cause is unknown but is assumed to be, at least in part, an effect of the immune response. The disorder has been associated with polymyalgia rheumatica, as well as with severe infections, high doses of antibiotics, and chronic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. The symptoms occur because of inflammation.

The disorder may occur or with (or follow) polymyalgia rheumatica (a disorder characterized by abrupt development of pain and stiffness in the pelvis and shoulder muscles). About 25% of people with giant cell arteritis also experience polymyalgia rheumatica.

Giant cell arteritis affects approximately 3 out of 10,000 people. It is more common in women. It is seen most often in those over 50 years old but has been documented in people less than 40. years old. It affects about 1 out of 750 people over 50 years old. It is rare in people of African descent.

Symptoms include fever, a throbbing headache on one side of the head or the back of the head, scalp sensitivity, jaw pain, visual difficulties (blurred vision, double vision, reduced vision, blindness in one or both eyes), weakness, excessive tiredness, generally feeling ill, loss of appetite and body weight, muscular aches, mouth sores, joint stiffness and pain, hearing loss, bleeding gums, and facial pain.



The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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