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Arthritis and Takayasu's Arteritis

What Are the Symptoms of Takayasu's Arteritis? continued...

Decreased blood flow to the kidneys may cause high blood pressure, but rarely causes kidney failure.

Some people with Takayasu's arteritis may not have any symptoms. Their diagnosis may be discovered when their doctor attempts to take their blood pressure and has trouble getting a reading in one or both arms. Similarly, a doctor may notice that the strength of pulses in the wrists, neck, or groin may not be equal, or the pulse on one side may be absent.

What Causes Takayasu's Arteritis?

The exact cause of Takayasu's arteritis is unknown.

Who Gets Takayasu's Arteritis?

Takayasu's arteritis most often affects young Asian women, but it also can affect children and adults of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. At diagnosis, Takayasu's arteritis patients often are between the ages of 15 and 35.

Every year in the U.S., two to three people are diagnosed with Takayasu's arteritis for every one million Americans.

How Is Takayasu's Arteritis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Takayasu's arteritis is based on a combination of factors, including:

  • A complete medical history and careful physical exam to exclude other illnesses that may have similar symptoms
  • Imaging studies (such as MRI, X-rays, and angiograms), which show location and severity of vessel damage
  • Presence of a bruit. Significant narrowing of blood vessels may result in turbulent blood flow through the narrowed area that creates an unusual sound called a "bruit."

Note: With most other forms of vasculitis, a biopsy (tissue sample) of the affected area confirms the presence of blood vessel inflammation. A biopsy is most appropriate when easily accessible areas, such as the skin, are affected. However, when large blood vessels are affected, a biopsy is often not practical because of the risks associated with surgery.

How Is Takayasu's Arteritis Treated?

Corticosteroids -- often called simply "steroids" -- are the most common treatment for Takayasu's arteritis. Steroids work within hours after the first dose is given. While this drug often is dramatically effective, it may be only partially effective for some people.

Once it is apparent that the disease is under control, doctors slowly reduce the dosage of prednisone (a steroid) to sustain improvement, thereby trying to minimize treatment side effects. In some people, it is possible to gradually discontinue medication without a relapse.

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