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Living With Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis — granulomatous arteritis of the main branches of the aorta, mainly extracranial branches of the carotid artery with frequent lesions of the temporal artery. Usually, in patients over 50 years of age, and often begins with polymyalgia rheumatica.

Depending on the localization and pathogenesis, giant cell arteritis is conditionally subdivided into the following types:

  • localized giant cell arteritis extends only to one group of vessels;
  • polymyalgia rheumatica, characterized by an extensive inflammatory process;
  • extensive giant cell arteritis, which combines temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica;
  • damage to the large arteries of the body.

Causes and giant cell arteritis symptoms

The causes of giant cell arteritis disease are not fully understood, but its main causes are immune disorders, characterized by the predominance of viruses and bacteria in the affected areas. Often the disease is preceded by mycoplasma, parvovirus, and chlamydial infections.

Temporal arteritis symptoms highlight general and vascular ones, as well as damage to the organs of vision.

Common symptoms:

  • prolonged or accidental temperature rise up to 38-39C;
  • lack of pulse in the peripheral arteries;
  • headache in templer;
  • discomfort in the face:
  • pain, tingling, burning, numbness when eating or talking.

Vascular symptoms:

  • induration, soreness and redness of the arteries;
  • the appearance of nodules on the scalp;
  • with damage to other large arteries, symptoms appear characteristic of the pathological process: lameness, strokes, myocardial infarction and other organs.

Eye damage:

  • blurred vision;
  • drooping of the upper eyelid;
  • pain in the eye area.

To avoid the development of dangerous complications, the patient should consult a doctor even with the slightest suspicion of giant cell arteritis symptoms: chronic pain in the head and face, constant fatigue, frequent increases in body temperature.

Diagnostics and temporal arteritis treatment

The detection of giant cell arteritis is complicated by the fact that it has symptoms similar to those of other diseases. External examination includes palpation of arteries and veins, which may be hard, swollen, or painful in the presence of disease. The diagnostics may include:

  • Temporal artery biopsy. (Under local anesthesia, a section of the temporal artery tissue is taken from the patient, which is then carefully examined under a microscope to identify infected cells.)
  • Angiography. (A procedure for x-ray examination of arteries and veins, which makes it possible to determine the place of narrowing and the extent of the inflammatory process.)
  • Ophthalmoscopy. (A study of the organs of vision, with the help of which, in patients with giant cell arteritis, the development of ischemic neuritis of the optic nerve and other complications can be detected.)

After diagnosis, the patient is given high doses of corticosteroids. It is recommended to continue treatment for about a month, after which the dose is gradually reduced so that therapy is canceled within 10-12 months.

This scheme gives good results in 90% of patients and allows you to normalize body temperature and ESR level in the blood. After reducing the dose, the patient should be under constant supervision of the attending physician. Hormone therapy is currently considered the only temporal arteritis treatment that can rapidly suppress the symptoms and manifestations of giant cell arteritis. The effectiveness of other techniques has not yet been confirmed.