Skip navigation

Takayasu arteritis

Takayasu arteritis is an inflammation of the aorta -- the artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body -- and its major branches.

See also: Aortic arch syndrome

Causes

The cause of Takayasu arteritis is unknown. The disease occurs mainly in children and women younger than 30, especially those who are of Asian or African descent.

It appears to be an autoimmune condition, where immune cells are wrongly targeted against the body's own tissues, and it may involve other systems.

Symptoms

  • Arm weakness or pain with use
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Skin rash
  • Night sweats
  • Vision changes
  • Weight loss

Exams and Tests

  • Decreased radial pulses (at the wrist)
  • Difference in blood pressure between the two arms
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

There may also be signs of inflammation (pericarditis or pleuritis).

Tests:

Treatment

Treatment of Takayasu arteritis is difficult, but patients who do have the right treatment can see positive results. Early detection is important.

Most patients are treated with steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. Surgery is reserved for complications caused by narrowed arteries.

Surgery to bypass narrowed arteries -- angioplasty or stent placement -- may be needed to supply blood or open up the constriction.

Outlook (Prognosis)

This disease can be fatal. However, with a combination of aggressive medical and surgical treatment, death rates have dropped dramatically.

In well managed cases of Takayasu arteritis, the long-term survival rate is greater than 90%. The survival rate is better for adults than for children.

Possible Complications

  • Blood clot
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Pericarditis
  • Pleuritis
  • Stroke

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition. Weak pulse, chest pain, and breathing difficulty require immediate care.

Alternative Names

Pulseless disease

References

Maksimowicz-McKinnon K, Hoffman GS. Takayasu arteritis: what is the long-term prognosis? Rheum Dis Clin North Am. 2007;33:777-786.

Update Date: 2/2/2012

Updated by: Ariel D. Teitel, MD, MBA, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo