Pulseless disease, Large-vessel vasculitis
Takayasu arteritis is an inflammation of large arteries such as the aorta and its major branches. The aorta is the artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body.
The cause of Takayasu arteritis is not known. The disease occurs mainly in children and women between the ages of 20 to 40. It is more common in people of East Asian, Indian or Mexican descent. However, it is now being seen more often in other parts of the world. Several genes that increase the chance of having this problem were recently found.
Takayasu arteritis appears to be an autoimmune condition. This means the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue in the blood vessel wall. The condition may also involve other organ systems.
This condition has many features that are similar to giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis in older people.
Symptoms may include:
There is no blood test available to make a definite diagnosis. The diagnosis is made when a person has symptoms and imaging tests show blood vessel abnormalities suggesting inflammation.
Possible tests include:
Treatment of Takayasu arteritis is difficult. However, people who have the right treatment can improve. It is important to identify the condition early. The disease tends to be chronic, requiring long-term use of anti-inflammatory medicines.
Most people are first treated with high doses of corticosteroids such as prednisone. As the disease is controlled the dose of prednisone is decreased.
In almost all cases, immunosuppressive drugs are added to reduce the need for long-term use of prednisone and yet maintain control of the disease.
Conventional immunosuppressive agents such as methotrexate, azathioprine, mycophenolate, cyclophosphamide, or leflunomide are often added.
Biologic agents may also be effective. These include TNF inhibitors such as infliximab, etanercept, and tocilizumab.
Surgery or angioplasty may be used to open up narrowed arteries to supply blood or open up the constriction.
Aortic valve replacement may be needed in some cases.
This disease can be fatal without treatment. However, a combined treatment approach using medicines and surgery has reduced death rates. Adults have a better chance of survival than children.
Complications may include:
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition. Immediate care is needed if you have:
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Review Date: 10/18/2019
Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, MACR, ABIM Board Certified in Rheumatology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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