Understanding Giant Cell Arteritis
Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), often called "temporal arteritis," is the most common form of vasculitis in people over 50 and is characterized by an inflammation of the blood vessels of the scalp, neck and arms.1 The cause of the disease is unknown, and the diagnosis process is complicated by the fact that no single test is definitive.2
What is the impact of Giant Cell Arteritis?
Permanent visual impairment may occur in as many as 20% of GCA patients.3
A large study showed patients with GCA may have higher risks of heart attacks, strokes and peripheral artery disease.4
Patients with GCA have an increased risk of death from the complications of aortic aneurysms.5
Its prevalence is seen in certain populations.
GCA is the most common form of vasculitis in people over 50.6
Approximately 228,000 adults in the US are affected by GCA.6
The disease is more common in women, who are affected approximately 3 to 3.5 times more often than men.7
It can affect multiple areas of the body.
Newly developed severe persisting headaches are the most common symptom, occurring in over 80% of patients.8
Symptoms include unexplained fatigue, loss of appetite, weight-loss, jaw pain, scalp tenderness.2
Prompt treatment, once the diagnosis of GCA has been confirmed, reduces the likelihood of significant visual loss.9
One third of GCA patients also have concurrent polymyalgia rheumatica, an inflammatory disorder that causes muscle pain and stiffness.8
1National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. Giant Cell Arteritis.http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/giantcellarteritis.html#summary. [Last accessed: October 6, 2016].
2American College of Rheumatology. Giant Cell Arteritis.http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Giant-Cell-Arteritis. [Last accessed: October 6, 2016]
3Seetharaman M, et al. Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis). Medscape.http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332483-overview. [Last accessed: October 6, 2016].
4Tomasson G, et al. Risk for cardiovascular disease early and late after a diagnosis of giant-cell arteritis: a cohort study. Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(2):73-80
5Kermani T, et al. Large-Vessel Involvement in Giant Cell Arteritis: A Population-Based Cohort Study of the Incidence-Trends and Prognosis. Annuals of Rheumatic Diseases. 2013: 72(12): 1989-1994
6Lawrence, RC, et al. Estimates of the prevalence of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States, Part II. Art hritis Rheum. 2008;58: 26-35.
7Medscape, Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis).http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332483-overview#a5"[Last accessed: October 6,2016]
8 Cleveland Clinic. Polymyalgia Rheumatica.http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/orthopaedics-rheumatology/diseases-conditions/hic-polymyalgia-rheumatica. [Last accessed: October 6, 2016].
9The John Hopkins Vasculitis Center. Giant Cell Arteritis.http://www.hopkinsvasculitis.org/types-vasculitis/giant-cell-arteritis/. [Last accessed: October 6, 2016].