Takayasu’s arteritis is a rare form of blood vessel inflammation (vasculitis) that typically affects the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body (the aorta), as well as the artery that carries blood from the heart to the lungs (pulmonary artery). Signs and symptoms of Takayasu’s arteritis often occur in two stages. The first stage (systemic stage) may include symptoms such general fatigue, fever, headache, fast and unintentional weight loss, joint pain and sore muscles. The second stage (occlusive stage) develops when inflammation causes the affected arteries to narrow. This narrowing can cause a decrease in blood flow along with a decrease in the amount of oxygen and nutrients that can reach tissues and organs. Symptoms of the second stage can include dizziness, visual problems, shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, weakness, change in limb color, fainting, stroke, seizure, or high blood pressure. Symptoms depend on which arteries are inflamed.
The exact cause of Takayasu’s arteritis is not known. The inflamed arteries are believed to be caused by an autoimmune disease, which means the body’s immune cells attack the tissue in the arteries, mistaking it for something foreign (from outside the body). To diagnose the condition, a doctor will collect a medical history, conduct a physical exam, perform blood tests and collect images of the heart, chest and arteries. In some cases, Takayasu’s arteritis can be managed by medication. However, if it becomes severe enough, surgery may be necessary. If you are diagnosed with Takayasu’s arteritis, talk with your doctor to discuss the right treatment plan for you.