Health Matters: What is Giant Cell Arteritis?
It’s called giant cell arteritis. “Giant cell arteritis is inflammation of the lining of the arteries, and it mostly affects the cranial branches of the carotid arteries which are the arteries on the side of the neck. Very often involving the temple arteries, which run alongside the temple area, that’s why it’s also called temple arteritis as well,” explained Dr. Juan Bustillo, a rheumatologist with Lee Health.
The autoimmune disease is more common in women between the ages of 70 and 80. “We know that the immune system attacks the inner lining of the arteries and causes an inflammation that leads to a seclusion of the artery and decreases blood flow to the organs,” he said. Patients can experience jaw pain, scalp tenderness, and vision changes. “Some of the alarming symptoms would be a new headache, persistent headaches that usually occur in the temple area but could also occur in the back of the skull, also sometimes in the frontal area,” Dr. Bustillo said.
While it’s not a common diagnosis, doctors say it can be detrimental if not diagnosed early. “The sooner you identify it, treat it, the better the outcome,” he said. Giant cell arteritis can be difficult to diagnose, making it important to address any new symptoms with your physician.
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