Takayasu’s Arteritis – Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

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Takayasu's Arteritis

The Takayasu’s arteritis is a rare type of vasculitis, which is a group of disorders that are causing blood vessel inflammation. In this disease, the inflammation damages the large artery which carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body (aorta) and its main branches. The Takayasu’s arteritis can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries or too weakened artery walls which may bulge (aneurysm) and tear.

Takayasu's Arteritis

Also, it can lead to arm or chest pain, high blood pressure, and eventually stroke or heart failure. If you do not have any symptoms, then you may not need treatments. But, most people with Takayasu’s arteritis need medications to control inflammation in the arteries and to prevent complications. Even when someone has a treatment, relapses are very common, and his or her symptoms may come and go.

Symptoms of Takayasu’s arteritis

The symptoms of Takayasu’s arteritis often happen in two stages. [1]

Stage 1

When you are in the first stage of Takayasu’s arteritis, then you are likely to feel unwell with:

  • Mild fever, sometimes accompanied by night sweats
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue

But, not every single person with Takayasu’s arteritis has these early signs and symptoms. It is possible for inflammation to damage arteries for years before you realize that something is wrong.

Stage 2

During the second stage of Takayasu’s arteritis, inflammation is causing arteries to narrow to less blood and oxygen and fewer nutrients reach your organs and tissues. The signs and symptoms of stage 2 include:

  • Too few red blood cells (anemia)
  • Diarrhea or blood in your stool
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath
  • Memory problems or trouble thinking
  • Headaches or visual changes
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • A weak pulse, difficulty getting blood pressure, or a difference in blood pressure between your arms
  • Weakness or pain in your limbs with the use

The key to an effective treatment in the early detection of Takayasu’s arteritis. So, if you have any symptoms of Takayasu’s arteritis, then talk with your doctor as soon as possible.

Causes

When someone has Takayasu’s arteritis, then the aorta and other major arteries, including those leading to your kidneys and head, can become inflamed. As time passes, the inflammation can cause changes in these arteries, which include scarring, narrowing, and thickening. No one knows which the exact cause for the initial inflammation in Takayasu’s arteritis is. The Takayasu’s arteritis is presumably an autoimmune ailment that is attacking your own arteries by mistake. It can be triggered by a virus or other infection. [2]

Risk factors

Primarily, girls and women younger than 40 are affected by Takayasu’s arteritis [3,4]. This type of disease is happening all around the world, but it is common in Asia [3]. In some cases, it can run in families. Some experts have noticed that there are certain genes that are associated with Takayasu’s arteritis.

Complications

When someone has Takayasu’s arteritis, cycles of inflammation and healing in the arteries may lead to one or more of the following complications:

Heart attack

It can happen as a result of reduced blood flow to the heart. [5]

Hardening and narrowing of the blood vessels

This can cause reduced blood flow to organs and tissues.

Aneurysm in the aorta

It happens when the walls of the blood vessels weaken and stretch and they are forming a bulge that has the potential to break. [6]

High blood pressure

It is usually happening as a result of decreased blood flow to the kidneys.

TIA

TIA is transient ischemic attack which is known as ministroke too. It serves as a warning sign because it provides symptoms which are similar to a stroke, but it does not cause permanent damage. [5]

Inflammation of the heart

It can affect the heart muscle or the heart valves.

Stroke

It is happening as a result of reduced or blocked blood flow in the arteries leading to your brain. [7]

Heart failure

It is happening due to high blood pressure, inflammation of the heart, an aortic valve which allows blood to leak back into your heart or a combination of these. [8]

References:

[1] Alnabwani D, Patel P, Kata P, et al. The epidemiology and clinical manifestations of Takayasu Arteritis: A descriptive study of case reports. Cureus. 2021;13(9):e17998.
doi:10.7759/cureus.17998

[2] American College of Rheumatology. Takayasu’s arteritis. Retrieved from www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Takayasus-Arteritis

[3] Li J, Sun F, Chen Z, et al. The clinical characteristics of Chinese Takayasu’s arteritis patients: a retrospective study of 411 patients over 24 years. Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2017;19.

[4] Saadoun D, Bura-Riviere A, Comarmond C, et al. French recommendations for the management of Takayasu’s arteritis. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 2021;16.

[5] Versini M, Tiosano S, Sharif K, et al. Association between Takayasu arteritis and ischemic heart disease: a cohort study. Mediterranean Journal of Rheumatology. 2019;30(3):171–6. doi:10.31138/mjr.30.3.171

[6] Pan L, Du J, Chen D, et al. Takayasu arteritis with dyslipidemia increases risk of aneurysm. Scientific Reports. 2019;9.

[7] Benjaminsen E, Reigstad A, Cengija V, et al. Stroke as the sole manifestation of Takayasu Arteritis in a 15-year-old boy with latent tuberculosis. Case Reports in Neurological Medicine. 2016.

[8] Benck AR, Patel S, Zern E, et al. Takayasu’s Arteritis presenting as heart failure in a 19-year-old female. JACC: Case Reports. 2019;1(3):355-9.

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