Although the exact cause of giant cell arteritis isn't known, several factors can increase your risk, including:

  • Age. Giant cell arteritis affects older adults almost exclusively — the average age at onset of the disease is 70, and it rarely occurs in people younger than 50.
  • Sex. Women are about two times more likely to develop giant cell arteritis.
  • Northern European — especially Scandinavian — descent. Although giant cell arteritis can affect anyone, people born in Northern European countries appear to have higher rates of giant cell arteritis. People of Scandinavian origin are particularly at risk.
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica. People with polymyalgia rheumatica have stiffness and aching in the neck, shoulders and hips. About 15 percent of people with polymyalgia rheumatica also have giant cell arteritis.
Oct. 05, 2012