Takayasu’s arteritis (TAK) is a rare condition that involves inflammation of the lining of large blood vessels called arteries. This inflammation can seriously damage important arteries including those that supply blood to the heart and lungs. TAK is sometimes called aortic arch syndrome.
Takayasu’s arteritis belongs to a family of arthritic diseases called vasculitis. The word vasculitis means inflammation of blood vessels.
As an autoimmune disease, TAK occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells and tissues. The reason why it does this is not well understood.
It is very important to treat TAK quickly and aggressively to control inflammation that can damage the arteries. If left untreated it can lead to serious complications including loss of vision and stroke.
TAK mostly affects young people, primarily between the ages of 10 and 40 years. It is 8 times more common in young women than young men, and slightly more common in people of Asian or African descent.
Some people who get TAK can go into remission after successful treatment and eventually no longer require medication. In others, it behaves more like a chronic (long-term) disease that must be controlled with medication on an ongoing basis.