Giant cell arteritis, also known as temporal arteritis, is a disorder characterized by chronic inflammation of large- and medium-sized blood vessels. Most frequently, the blood vessels that are affected are those that originate from the arch of the aorta in the chest, and their branches that lead into the head and neck. GCA is almost never diagnosed in patients under the age of 50 years, and usually patients are in their 70s at the time of diagnosis. The diagnosis is usually made by a biopsy
of the temporal artery in those patients in whom the symptoms and laboratory markers are concerning.
These symptoms may include a new headache
, visual loss, jaw pain
, tenderness or reduced pulsatility of the temporal artery, aching and stiffness of the joints like that seen in Polymyalgia Rheumatica, and elevated levels of inflammatory markers in the blood. Treatment of GCA generally entails corticosteroid therapy, such as with Prednisone, often given in the range of 40-60 mg daily and then tapered down slowly as tolerated. Low-dose Aspirin may also be prescribed to help prevent against neurologic complications such as stroke.