Harvard Health Letter

When arteries get inflamed

Headaches are the most common symptom of temporal arteritis, but the anemia, weight loss, and malaise it produces means other diseases are often suspected.

Temporal arteritis is a disease of the arteries that's also known as cranial arteritis or giant cell arteritis — the latter for the extremely large cells (known as multinucleated giant cells) that develop in affected artery walls. It's a treatable but frightening condition, partly because it can result in partial or total blindness, although early treatment has reduced that risk significantly.

Arteritis (pronounced ar-ter-I-tis) is the term for inflammation affecting the arteries. Temporal arteritis is named for the large temporal arteries located on either side of the head, but it may affect other blood vessels, and not just in the head.

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