Giant cell arteritis

Overview

Also known as temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis, this is the most common form of vasculitis that occurs in adults. It causes the inflammation of the lining of arteries — the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Most often, it affects the arteries in your head, especially those in your temples. For this reason, giant cell arteritis is sometimes called temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis. Almost all patients who develop giant cell arteritis are over the age of 50. Your arteries are pliable tubes with thick, elastic walls. Oxygenated blood leaves your heart through your body’s main artery, the aorta. The aorta then subdivides into smaller arteries that deliver blood to all parts of your body, including your brain and internal organs.With giant cell arteritis, some of these arteries become inflamed, causing them to swell and sometimes decreasing blood flow. Just what causes these arteries to become inflamed isn’t known.Because the disease is relatively uncommon and because it can cause so many different symptoms, the diagnosis of temporal arteritis can be difficult to make. With appropriate therapy, temporal arteritis is an eminently treatable, controllable, and often curable disease.

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