SARS-CoV-2 Infections Can Lead To The Development of Giant Cell Arteritis

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Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the medium and large arteries of the body, especially those in the head and neck region.

It is also known as temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis. GCA is more common in women than in men, and the risk of developing the condition increases with age, especially in people over 50 years old.

Symptoms of Giant Cell Arteritis The symptoms of GCA can vary from person to person, and they can develop slowly or suddenly. Common symptoms include:

  • Severe headaches, especially in the temples
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Jaw pain when chewing or speaking
  • Vision changes or vision loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle aches and stiffness, especially in the neck, shoulders, and hips

Diagnosis of Giant Cell Arteritis To diagnose GCA, your doctor will first perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. They may also order several tests, including:

  • Blood tests to check for inflammation markers and to rule out other conditions
  • Biopsy of the affected artery to confirm the diagnosis
  • Imaging tests, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) to look for inflamed blood vessels

Treatment of Giant Cell Arteritis The standard treatment for GCA is corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation and prevent complications. The dosage and duration of treatment may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s response to treatment. Some people may need to take corticosteroids for several months or longer.

In addition to corticosteroids, your doctor may also recommend low-dose aspirin to reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke. They may also monitor your eyesight regularly and refer you to an ophthalmologist if necessary.

In some cases, if corticosteroids are not effective or cause severe side effects, your doctor may prescribe immunosuppressive drugs such as methotrexate or tocilizumab. These drugs work by suppressing the immune system to reduce inflammation and prevent damage to the blood vessels.

Complications of Giant Cell Arteritis If left untreated, GCA can cause serious complications, such as vision loss or stroke. It is essential to seek medical attention promptly if you experience symptoms of GCA.

Recent studies have also shown a potential link between SARS-CoV-2 infections and the development of GCA.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2019. The virus primarily spreads through respiratory droplets and can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe. While most people recover from the virus without any long-term complications, there have been reports of various health complications associated with COVID-19. One such complication is the development of GCA.

A study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology in March 2021 investigated the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and GCA. The study involved 12 patients who were diagnosed with GCA after recovering from COVID-19. The researchers found that the patients developed symptoms of GCA within a few weeks to a few months after their COVID-19 infection.

The symptoms included headache, jaw pain, and vision disturbances. The patients were treated with corticosteroids, which are the standard treatment for GCA, and their symptoms improved over time.

The study authors suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection may trigger an autoimmune response in some individuals, leading to the development of GCA. The virus may also cause direct damage to the blood vessel walls, leading to inflammation and the formation of giant cells, which are characteristic of GCA. The authors note that further studies are needed to confirm this association and to understand the underlying mechanisms involved.

Another study published in the Journal of Neurology in January 2021 investigated the prevalence of GCA in patients with COVID-19. The study involved 47 patients who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and underwent imaging studies of the arteries in the head and neck region. The researchers found that 10 of the patients had evidence of GCA on their imaging studies.

The patients with GCA were significantly older and had a higher rate of cardiovascular risk factors compared to those without GCA. The authors suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection may exacerbate underlying cardiovascular disease, leading to the development of GCA.

In conclusion, while the association between SARS-CoV-2 infection and GCA is not yet fully understood, there is evidence to suggest a potential link. Individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and develop symptoms of GCA should seek medical attention to receive prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms involved and to identify individuals who may be at higher risk of developing GCA after a SARS-CoV-2 infection.


reference link :

  1. Arthritis & Rheumatology. “Giant Cell Arteritis Following SARS‐CoV‐2 Infection: A Case Series and Systematic Review of the Literature.” (March 2021). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.41616
  2. Journal of Neurology. “Giant cell arteritis in COVID-19: a case-based review.” (January 2021). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00415-020-10268-7
  3. American College of Rheumatology. “COVID-19 Resources for Rheumatologists.” https://www.rheumatology.org/announcements
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coronavirus (COVID-19).” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  5. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. “Giant Cell Arteritis.” https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/giant-cell-arteritis
  6. World Health Organization. “COVID-19.” https://www.who.int/emergencies/disease/novel-coronavirus-2019

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