Your arteries are pliable tubes with thick, elastic walls. Oxygenated blood leaves your heart through your body's main artery, the aorta. The aorta then subdivides into smaller arteries that deliver blood to all parts of your body, including your brain and internal organs.
With giant cell arteritis, some of these arteries become inflamed, causing them to swell and sometimes decreasing blood flow. Just what causes these arteries to become inflamed isn't known.
Although almost any large or medium-sized artery can be affected, swelling most often occurs in the temporal arteries in your head, which are located just in front of your ears and continue up into your scalp. In some cases, the swelling affects just part of an artery with sections of normal vessel in between.
Oct. 05, 2012
- Polymyalgia rheumatica and giant cell arteritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Polymyalgia/default.asp. Accessed May 25, 2012.
- Giant cell arteritis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/vasculitis/giant_cell_arteritis.html. Accessed May 25, 2012.
- Hunder GG. Clinical manifestations of giant cell (temporal) arteritis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 28, 2012.
- Hunder GG. Pathogenesis of giant cell (temporal) arteritis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 28, 2012.
- Falardeau J. Giant cell arteritis. Neurologic clinics. 2010;28:581.
- Borchers AT, et al. Giant cell arteritis: A review of classification, pathophysiology, geoepidemiology and treatment. Autoimmunity Reviews. 2012;11:A544.
- Hunder GG. Diagnosis of giant cell (temporal) arteritis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 28, 2012.
- Treatment of giant cell (temporal) arteritis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed May 28, 2012.
- Calcium and vitamin D: Important at any age. National Institutes of Health. http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/bone_health/nutrition/#e. Accessed May 29, 2012.
- Chang-Miller A (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. June 3, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.