Arteritis is the inflammation of the arteries which damages the blood vessel walls and lowers the blood supply to the vital organs. Arteritis is classified into different types; the symptoms and severity of the condition depend upon which arteries are affected and the extent of the damage.

arteritis symptoms

The exact causes of arteritis are still not identified; however, an autoimmune disorder may be the cause of this condition. The immune cells strike the walls of the blood vessels resulting in severe damage. The immune bodies form nodules called granulomas that hinder the blood flow to the organs. The cells become weakened, increasing the risk of aneurysms, which may cause internal bleeding of the arteries. Also Read: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment

The condition may lead to severe blood loss and lack of oxygen flow to vital organs. Improper blood flow to the organs may result in heart and kidney failure and blindness, depending on which arteries are involved. Prompt medical attention is required to avert organ malfunction.

Types Of Arteritis

Takeyasu’s Arteritis

Takeyasu’s arteritis is also called aortic arch syndrome mostly affecting middle-aged women. It results in inflammation of the aorta and its branches which may lead to scarring of the arteries. The aorta walls become thickened and gradual damage to the branches of the aorta will eventually lead to inadequate blood and oxygen supply to the rest of the body. Weakness to the artery walls results in aortic aneurysms and rupture of the swelled wall may result in death. Moreover, damage to the main branch of the aorta may partially or completely stop the pulse. Takeyasu’s cannot be treated completely but can be managed with immunosuppressant medications.

Symptoms of Takeyasu’s

  • Poor vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight Loss

Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA)

Giant cell arteritis or temporal arteritis is an infection that develops in the superficial temporal artery and other arteries carrying blood to the head, eyes, and jaw. It is common among women above the age of 50.

GCA usually starts with flu-like symptoms which include:

  • Pounding headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Severe body pain and aches
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue

The affected arteries in the head are very tender to touch, inflammation in the blood vessels hinders the normal flow of blood to the optic nerves and jaw which leads to vision loss, jaw pain, and scalp pain. In severe cases of GCA, it may lead to vision loss when the ocular arteries are blocked.GCA is not fatal and treatment with corticosteroids may avert blindness.

Polyarteritis Nodosa

Polyarteritis nodosa is also known by several other names like Kussmaul disease, Kussmaul Maier disease or infantile polyarteritis nodosa. It is due to the inflammation of the medium and small arteries which carry blood from the heart to other vital organs and tissues. It develops in men between age 30-49 and in most cases causes are unknown. The symptoms generally vary as many blood vessels are involved. Polyarteritis Nodosa symptoms are also similar to flu which includes:

  • Severe headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • General malaise and fatigue
  • Poor appetite

When the arteries involving the kidneys are damaged it may result in edema, high blood pressure and renal damage. Heart attack and heart failure may develop if the arteries involving the heart are affected. Polyarteritis nodosa can be treated with immune suppressant drugs, however, it has a high chance of relapse and it is very fatal. Also Read: World Heart Day: 5 Simple Ways To Care For Your Heart

Diagnosis And Treatment

A doctor generally collects medical history and complete physical examination. Blood tests like CBC, C-reactive protein and liver profile are recommended. Furthermore, to assess the degree of blockage various imaging tests are suggested like CT scan, ultrasound, MRI and angiogram. The doctor may also recommend a biopsy of the blood cells to diagnose the extent of cell damage.

Treatment mainly involves prescribing immune suppressant corticosteroid drugs to suppress immune reactions. In certain cases, antibiotics are also recommended to treat an infection. Surgery may be suggested if the vital organs are damaged.