What is Giant Cell Arteritis?
Giant cell arteritis (GCA or TA) is an inflammatory disease of the arteries characterized by a granulomatous and tissue-destructive process. It affects the large and medium-sized arteries of the head, neck and arms, mainly the temporal artery. This condition is also known as temporal arteritis, cranial arteritis, or granulomatous arteritis.
Giant Cell Arteritis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
The cause of giant cell arteritis is still unknown, although multiple factors are likely to be involved in its development. GCA is strongly associated with age and is more commonly seen in persons over the age of 50. It is also seen more frequently in women than in men.
The most common symptoms of giant cell arteritis include headaches (especially in the temples or forehead), scalp tenderness and pain, jaw claudication (pain that occurs when talking or eating due to decreased blood supply to the jaw muscles), flu-like symptoms, generalized fatigue, and visual disturbances. If untreated, giant cell arteritis can lead to blindness and stroke.
Treatment of giant cell arteritis should be started as soon as possible. The mainstay of treatment is high-dose oral glucocorticoids (cortisone), which should be taken for at least 1 year. Other treatment options include antinuclear antibody (ANA) tests, aspirin, and immunosuppressant drugs such as cyclophosphamide or methotrexate.
Giant Cell Arteritis: Health Effects and Prevention
The health effects of giant cell arteritis can be serious and in some cases, life-threatening. Long-term complications include aneurysm formation, claudication, stroke, and blindness.
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to prevent giant cell arteritis. However, individuals can minimize their risk by taking certain measures. These include maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle, avoiding any type of vascular injury, and having regular screenings by your doctor. Finally, early treatment of giant cell arteritis is key since the longer you wait, the more severe the damage and complications may be.
Keywords: Giant Cell Arteritis, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Health Effects, Prevention