What’s Takayasu’s arteritis?

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Takayasu arteritis is a rare condition that causes inflammation of the major arteries, particularly the aorta. It is most common in young women of Asian populations and can lead to life-threatening complications such as stroke and heart attack. Treatment involves medication and surgery to widen the affected artery.

Takayasu arteritis refers to inflammation of the major arteries in the chest, especially the aorta. It is a rare condition, mainly affecting women between the ages of 10 and 30. Doctors don’t fully understand the causes of aortic inflammation, although research suggests that Takayasu’s arteritis may be an inherited autoimmune disease. When the condition is discovered early, doctors can usually reduce the inflammation with medications or surgical stents. A severe or undiagnosed case can lead to permanent scarring, heart attack, or stroke.

The aorta and its branches supply the body with fresh blood. In the case of Takayasu’s arteritis, blood flow is restricted due to irritation, inflammation, and scarring of arterial tissue. The body’s immune system appears to initiate inflammation, as it mistakenly attacks otherwise healthy tissue. Takayasu’s arteritis is most common among young women in Asian populations, although it can potentially affect anyone. Because doctors aren’t sure of the causes, no other risk factors have been identified.

A person who has the condition is likely to experience flu-like symptoms at first, such as joint pain, fever, and fatigue. As the inflammation gets worse, an individual might notice chest pains, headaches, and significant weakness. If Takayasu is left untreated, it can lead to potentially life-threatening blood clots and high blood pressure. Depending on the location and severity of a clot, a person may be at risk for stroke, heart attack, or respiratory failure.

Because the symptoms associated with Takayasu’s arteritis are similar to those seen with many other diseases, doctors don’t always make accurate diagnoses right away. A specialist can usually differentiate the condition by conducting diagnostic imaging tests. Angiography and computed tomography can reveal disruption of blood flow and inflammation in the major thoracic arteries. If the results are inconclusive, your doctor may decide to take a small sample of aortic tissue for laboratory analysis.

Doctors base treatment measures on the stage and severity of Takayasu’s arteritis. Mild cases can often be treated with corticosteroids, drugs that help stop the immune system’s inflammatory response. Surgery is needed if the condition severely restricts blood flow. The most common procedure involves widening the affected artery and inserting a metal stent to keep the walls apart. Most patients who receive treatment for Takayasu artrtis recover within a few months, although the condition can occasionally return months or even years later. Follow-up doctor visits are important to monitor your recovery and prevent future complications.

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