Giant cell arteritis/temporal arteritis/Horton's disease

Overview

Giant cell arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis or Horton’s disease, is a disease of the blood vessels. This condition alters blood vessel walls leading to poor blood circulation and vasculitis (inflammation of arteries). Some of the more specific artery walls damaged in this condition include the temporal arteries, which help supply the head and brain with blood.

At this time, what causes GCA is unknown, though there are suspicions that it is an autoimmune disease that involves the immune system attacking blood vessels. 

Common Symptoms

Severe head pain and tenderness on the temples (which can randomly improve, worsen, or temporarily disappear over time), scalp tenderness, jaw pain, fever, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, fatigue, unintended weight loss, vision loss or double vision, as well as sudden and permanent loss of vision in one eye, and pain/stiffness in your neck, shoulders, or hips.

Coexisting Diseases and Conditions

Polymyalgia rheumatica, blindness, aortic aneurysms, strokes, and osteoporosis.

Risk Factors and Prevalence

Environmental and genetic factors as well as aging are believed to play a role in the condition’s development. GCA most commonly affects those between 70 and 80.  Those under the age of 50 are rarely affected. Another risk for people is their biological sex. Females are two to six times more at risk of incidence than males. Ancestry and racial/ethnic identities also seem to be relevant to the condition’s onset. Caucasians in Northern European or Scandinavian populations are more commonly affected by the condition. Those with family histories (genetic predispositions) of the condition or those who have experienced polymyalgia rheumatica also tend to develop the condition more commonly.

Sources

  1. Article Sources and Footnotes
    1. Giant Cell Arteritis. (n.d.-a). NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/arteritis-giant-cell/

    2. Giant Cell Arteritis. (n.d.-b). [Text]. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/giantcellarteritis.html

    3. Giant Cell Arteritis. (n.d.-c). Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center. Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.hopkinsvasculitis.org/types-vasculitis/giant-cell-arteritis/

    4. Giant Cell Arteritis. (n.d.-d). Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Giant-Cell-Arteritis

    5. Giant Cell Arteritis | Arthritis Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.arthritis.org/diseases/giant-cell-arteritis

    6. Giant cell arteritis | Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) – an NCATS Program. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/9615/giant-cell-arteritis

    7. Giant cell arteritis (GCA). (n.d.). Versus Arthritis. Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/giant-cell-arteritis-gca/

    8. Giant cell arteritis—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/giant-cell-arteritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20372758

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