What is Takayasu’s Arteritis?
The blood circulates in the body through vessels known as arteries. The heart pumps the blood into a major vessel called as aorta and blood then flows through various branches of the aorta into the organs of the body. Takayasus arteritis is a condition that leads to inflammation of the aorta and its major branches and narrowing with decreased blood supply. It is a chronic condition.
What are the signs and symptoms of Takayasus arteritis?
The disease affects women much more frequently than men. Early in the disease, the symptoms are non-specific and most of the time at the time of diagnosis; patients have symptoms of decreased blood supply to either the upper extremities or to the lower extremities. Patients have absent or diminished upper body or lower limb pulses. High blood pressure (hypertension) may occur due to narrowing of artery going to the kidney (renal artery stenosis).
The common symptoms are fatigue and limb pain.
What is the cause of Takayasu arteritis?
A specific cause has not been found, but it may be of an autoimmune cause. [Autoimmune disorder is a condition when the body starts fighting against its own body’s cells]. It has been linked to rheumatic fever, streptococcal infections and rheumatoid arthritis. Majority of cases are seen in Asia and Africa though it occurs worldwide.
How is the diagnosis of Takayasu arteritis made?
The clinical presentation of absent pulses may lead to a suspicion of Takayasu’s arteritis. An ultrasound of the aorta and its branches can show narrowing of the vessels that can be confirmed by angiography. Ultimate diagnosis would be by biopsy of the affected vessel.
Other laboratory abnormalities that may be seen are elevated ESR, mild anemia and increased white cell count.
What is the treatment of Takayasu’s Arteritis?
Steroids (Glucocorticoids) are the main stay of therapy. When patients fail to respond to steroid therapy, other drugs that suppress immunity such as cyclophosphamide and methotrexate have been recommended. In some patients, with extensive narrowing of vessels, angioplasty for treatment of obstructive lesions of Takayasu’s arteritis may be required.