Giant Cell Arteritis (Temporal Arteritis)

What Is It?

Giant cell arteritis, also called temporal arteritis, is a disease in which the medium-sized arteries that supply the eye, scalp and face become inflamed and narrowed. This disease can cause loss of vision, so it is essential that the problem be diagnosed and treated as early as possible. Larger blood vessels, including the aorta and its branches, also may be involved, and can lead to the blood vessel weakening and even rupturing years later.

This disorder develops almost exclusively in people older than age 55 and most commonly affects people in their 70s and 80s. It is relatively rare: among people over the age of 55, it affects an estimated 2 people in 1,000.

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