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Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), also known as temporal arteritis, is a condition where inflammation of the lining of the arteries causes swelling inside the arteries. This can cut off the blood supply to organs and tissues in the body. The most common arteries affected are around the head and neck, especially the area around the temples (i.e. temporal arteritis).

GCA belongs to a family of arthritic diseases called vasculitis. The word vasculitis means inflammation of blood vessels.

It is very important that GCA is treated as early and aggressively as possible to reduce damage to the arteries and ensure that important organs and tissues in the body are not cut off from their blood supply. If left untreated, the disease can lead to serious complications including blindness and stroke.

People aged 70 and older are most commonly affected by GCA. The condition can also occur in people in their 50s or 60’s, but this is less common. It is about twice as common in women than men. People born in Northern Europe seem to have the highest rates of giant cell arteritis.

GCA is sometimes associated with another rheumatic disease called polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). About half of the people who have giant cell arteritis also have PMR.