Giant cell arteritis can cause the following complications:

  • Blindness. This is the most serious complication of giant cell arteritis. The swelling that occurs with giant cell arteritis narrows your blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood — and, therefore, oxygen and vital nutrients — that reaches your body's tissues. Diminished blood flow to your eyes can cause sudden, painless vision loss in one or, in rare cases, both eyes. Unfortunately, blindness is usually permanent.
  • Aortic aneurysm. Having giant cell arteritis increases your risk of aneurysm. An aneurysm is a bulge that forms in a weakened blood vessel, usually in the aorta, the large artery that runs down the center of your chest and abdomen. An aortic aneurysm is a serious condition because it may burst, causing life-threatening internal bleeding. Because it may occur even years after the initial diagnosis of giant cell arteritis, your doctor may monitor the health of your aorta with annual chest X-rays or other imaging tests, such as ultrasound, CT scan or MRI.
  • Stroke. In some cases, a blood clot may form in an affected artery, obstructing blood flow completely, depriving part of your brain of necessary oxygen and nutrients, and causing stroke. This serious condition is an uncommon complication of giant cell arteritis.
Oct. 05, 2012