Giant cell arteritis is a systemic vasculitis characterized by granulomatous inflammation of the aorta and its main vessels. Cardiovascular risk, both for arterial and venous thromboembolism, is increased in these patients, but the role of thromboprophylaxis is still debated. It should be suspected in elderly patients suffering from sudden onset severe headaches, jaw claudication, and visual disease. Early diagnosis is necessary because prognosis depends on the timeliness of treatment: this kind of arteritis can be complicated by vision loss and cerebrovascular strokes. Corticosteroids remain the cornerstone of the pharmacological treatment of GCA. Aspirin seems to be effective in cardiovascular prevention, while the use of anticoagulant therapy is controversial. Association with other rheumatological disease, particularly with polymyalgia rheumatica is well known, while possible association with antiphospholipid syndrome is not established. Large future trials may provide information about the optimal therapy. Other approaches with new drugs, such as TNF-alpha blockades, Il-6 and IL-1 blockade agents, need to be tested in larger trials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas