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Takayasu’s Arteritis: Signs, Risks, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 05, 2022

    Takayasu’s Arteritis: Signs, Risks, Diagnosis, and Treatment

    Takayasu’s arteritis refers to a rare type of inflammation in the blood vessels. The inflammation causes damage to the aorta (the largest artery that delivers blood from the heart to the rest of the body) and its primary branches. This condition develops a weak or absent pulse in the arms, legs, or organs which is more likely to occur in Asian women under their 40s. Because of this, some people used to call the sickness “pulseless disease.” There are some instances in which a person may not show any symptoms at all. And, in such cases, Takayasu’s arteritis treatment may not be needed. But others may need to control the inflammation right away to avoid further complications.

    Origin of Takayasu’s Arteritis

    In 1908, Dr. Mikito Takayasu took note of the appearance of blood vessels in his patient’s eye’s retina as “wreathlike.” From the first case, it is now understood that blood vessel malformations in the retina are a type of new blood vessel growth response to arterial narrowings in the neck. The absence of a pulse observed in certain patients is also considered due to blood vessel narrowings in the arms.

    Takayasu’s Arteritis Signs and Symptoms

    There are two stages for the signs and symptoms of this condition. 

    Stage 1: Systemic Phase

    Most people with signs or symptoms of an active inflammatory illness may be in the systemic phase. A person is more likely to feel “constitutional symptoms” and feel tired during the early stage of this condition. Some of the signs may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mild fever (sometimes with night sweats)
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • During the systemic phase, people have lab evidence of elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rates. Others may not experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, but may easily progress to the second stage. 

    Stage 2: Occlusive Phase

    Inflammation causes arteries to narrow in the second stage. When this happens, less blood, oxygen, and nutrients are able to enter organs and tissues. The following are common signs and symptoms for this stage:

    • Weak/low  pulse rate (difficulty in getting blood pressure between the arms)
    • Claudication (pain in the limbs when doing repetitive activities)
    • Chest pains
    • Shortness of breath
    • High blood pressure
    • Lightheadedness and dizziness (leading to fainting)
    • Impaired visuals 
    • Memory problems
    • Anemia
    • Diarrhea and vomiting, even abdominal pain

    Takayasu’s Arteritis Complications

    It is most likely that a person diagnosed with Takayasu’s arteritis may also experience complications like:

    • Narrowed and hardened blood vessels
    • Inflammation of the heart
    • Heart attack or heart failure
    • Stroke
    • Transient ischemic attack (TIA or also known as ministroke)
    • Aortic aneurysm 

    Further complications may be addressed differently according to the Takayasu’s arteritis treatment advised by the doctor. 

    Takayasu’s Arteritis Diagnosis

    Takayasu’s arteritis is an uncommon condition that even doctors may find difficult to detect. Your doctor may do a physical check-up and take your medical history before running tests that can help diagnose the condition. 

    Like any other blood vessel disorder, a series of  blood tests may be conducted. Imaging and other scanning tests may also help identify where the damage and inflammation are. A few of these tests are: 

    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computed tomography angiography (CTA)
    • Color Doppler ultrasound
    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
    • Angiography and/or MRA

    Takayasu’s Arteritis Treatment

    The main goal of the Takayasu’s arteritis treatment is to control the inflamed areas and minimize the complications it may bring. 

    Treatment is on a case-to-case basis. It may be enough to control the condition through immunosuppressants, corticosteroids, and other medications for some, while others might need more than a dose or two of steroids. Doctors may also administer surgical interventions when needed. 

    Key Takeaways

    It is best to receive Takayasu’s arteritis treatment as soon as possible to avoid any complications. Consult your doctor right away if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of this condition. 

    Learn more about Other Cardiovascular Issues here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated May 05, 2022

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