About Giant Cell Arteritis

Giant cell arteritis is a form of vasculitis (inflammatory vessel disease) that affects medium and large arteries. It is the most common form of vasculitis in adults over the age of 50. The condition most often affects the temporal arteries, large vessels which supply blood to your head and neck. For this reason, many symptoms of the disease are localized to this region.

Symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis

The onset of giant cell arteritis symptoms tends to span weeks or months. In less common instances, symptom onset is more abrupt.

Symptoms of giant cell arteritis may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Jaw pain
  • Loss of vision
  • Headache
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Stroke

Risk Factors for Giant Cell Arteritis

Researchers have identified several risk factors that may increase your likelihood of developing giant cell arteritis.

Risk factors for giant cell arteritis may include:

  • Age: The condition typically affects people over the age of 50.
  • Family history: Giant cell arteritis is most common in individuals of Scandinavian descent. Individuals with the HLA-DRB1*04 gene are more likely to develop the condition.
  • Sex: The condition is more common in female patients.

Treating Giant Cell Arteritis at UT Health Austin

Like all forms of vasculitis, corticosteroids like prednisone can be used to address the inflammation associated with giant cell arteritis. Your physician may also use a drug called tocilizumab which is thought to prevent the immune system from attacking healthy tissue. Throughout the course of your treatment, you can expect compassionate care from each provider in the clinic.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place. The Vasculitis Clinic care team includes rheumatologists, nurses, and medical assistants who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to develop the best treatment plan for you. Advanced imaging and lab testing are also available on-site if needed, including computed tomography angiography (CTA) and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA).

Learn More About Your Care Team

Two young women of color stand next to each other in a park, smiling at each other. Both are wearing athletic clothes.

Rheumatology Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 1st Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions

An East Asian, mature man with a beard and glasses, dressed in a blue button down shirt and nave blue sweater vest, glances to his left reading a document while holding an orange coffee mug in his right hand.

Vasculitis Clinic

Health Transformation Building, 1st Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions