Giant cell arteritis (GCA or temporal arteritis) is an inflammatory disease of blood vessels (most commonly large and medium arteries of the head). It is a form of vasculitis.
The name (giant cell arteritis) reflects the type of inflammatory cell that is involved (as seen on biopsy).
The terms "giant cell arteritis" and "temporal arteritis" are sometimes used interchangeably, because of the frequent involvement of the temporal artery. However, it can involve other large vessels (such as the aorta in "giant cell aortitis". Giant cell arteritis of the temporal artery is referred to as "temporal arteritis," and is also known as "Cranial arteritis" and "Horton's disease.":840
The disorder may coexist (in one quarter of cases) with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), which is characterized by sudden onset of pain and stiffness in muscles (pelvis, shoulder) of the body and is seen in the elderly. GCA and PMR are so closely linked that they are often considered to be different manifestations of the same disease process. Other diseases related with temporal arteritis are systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and severe infections.
It is more common in females than males by a ratio of 3:1. The mean age of onset is about 70 years, and it is rare in those less than 50 years of age.
Patients present with:
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