The autoimmune disease Takayasu arteritis begins very unspecifically with a strong feeling of illness and symptoms that also occur with a conventional viral flu and can mislead the treating physician to make a wrong diagnosis. The disease then goes into a chronic course, in which the symptoms caused by the circulatory disorders come to the fore.
What is Takayasu arteritis?
Takayasu arteritis, also known as Takayasu disease, is a very rare autoimmune disease that primarily affects East Asian women and is named after Mikito Takayasu, who first described the disease in 2008. For what is insulin resistance, please visit gradinmath.com.
In Takayasu’s arteritis, there is a granulomatous, and thus vaso-occlusive, inflammation of the outgoing branches of the aorta, and in a few cases also the pulmonary artery. Rarely, protrusions, so-called aneurysms, occur on the affected vessels.
This form of the disease is commonly referred to as vasculitis, a group of diseases that share inflammation of the blood vessels. As a result, the disease then often damages the associated organs or limbs, since they are undersupplied. The vascular diseases belong to the rheumatic diseases.
The causes of Takayasu’s arteritis are still largely unclear. Autoimmunological processes are suspected. Among other things, environmental factors, hepatitis viruses and bacterial infections with Staphylococcus aureus are under discussion.
A genetic predisposition to the disease cannot be ruled out either. However, how the vascular occlusions ultimately occur in Takayasu arteritis has now been clarified. After an accumulation of inflammatory cells on the vessel walls initially leads to narrowing of the vessels, the accumulation of cells creates areas that are exposed to high pressure.
The vessel walls calcify, scar tissue develops and as a result the vessels become stiff and narrow.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A distinction must be made between symptoms in the initial and progressive stages of Takayasu arteritis. In the beginning, there are usually general symptoms that cannot be clearly linked to an inflammation of the blood vessels. Some non-meds misinterpret this as [[flu]. They lead to a weakening of the body. Patients complain of feverish conditions.
It is not uncommon to break out in a sweat at night. Without lifestyle changes, sufferers lose weight. Pain is present near the foci of inflammation. The joints and muscles feel attacked. As the disease progresses, new vascular occlusions form. Patients often complain of pain in their arms.
Even lifting light objects can become a strain. In this context, dizziness often occurs. The natural circulation is disturbed. If the carotid artery is affected, the throat feels sore. Pain there is often accompanied by spontaneous visual disturbances. There is a risk of a stroke.
Sufferers sometimes complain of difficulty breathing and chest pain associated with Takayasu’s arteritis. It is precisely these symptoms that should not be ignored. They are deadly if not handled properly. An early healing of the typical signs brings with it the greatest chances of improvement.
Diagnosis & History
Usually, Takayasu’s arteritis begins with a strong feeling of illness. Patients feel very exhausted and weak, suffer from loss of appetite and weight loss, and report joint and muscle pain. There may be a fever and night sweats.
After the initial course of the disease, chronic symptoms such as visual disturbances, dizziness and fainting spells, high blood pressure and headaches occur as a result of the circulatory disorders and the reduced supply to the organs concerned. The risk of stroke and heart attack also increases. The blood pressure in both arms is often different.
With an ultrasound examination, the vascular constrictions and inflammatory processes can be made visible. Computer or magnetic resonance tomography can provide a more precise picture of the vascular system and also make any bulges in the vessels visible.
Since there are no disease-specific laboratory values for Takayasu arteritis, the examination of the blood is not the focus of the diagnosis. Only elevated inflammatory parameters, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrogen, an accelerated blood sedimentation rate and an increase in white blood cells can be detected with a laboratory finding.
People suffering from Takayasu’s arteritis develop severe joint and muscle pain relatively quickly. Serious complications can arise if the circulatory disorders are not treated. Damage to the heart valve on the main artery can then develop and the risk of a heart attack increases. Organ damage and strokes also occur again and again as the disease progresses.
Many of those affected also suffer from recurring attacks of dizziness and fainting, which can lead to falls and serious injuries as a result. If the patient has a previous illness, even the typical flare-ups of fever can result in serious complications. Although circulatory failure is relatively rare, it can be fatal for those affected if the associated symptoms are accompanied.
Drug treatment usually proceeds without major complications. However, the immunosuppressants and corticosteroids used can cause side effects and interactions as well as allergic reactions. An intervention via balloon catheter, laser or stent can cause vascular damage and other adverse events.
If a stent is placed in the area of the aorta, this can lead to cardiac arrhythmia. Rarely, an acute occlusion of the stent and a heart attack can occur. Hypersensitivity reactions to the contrast medium can also occur.
When should you go to the doctor?
People who suffer from a general feeling of illness or malaise should talk to their doctor about the observations. The disease is often confused with symptoms of the flu, so the person affected should carefully examine and describe what symptoms they perceive. Patients often notice differences in their current state of health in comparison to an influenza disease at an early stage. You should inform your doctor accordingly.
Fever, night sweats or spontaneous disturbances of the usual vision must be examined and treated. Pain in the chest or upper body is considered unusual and a sign of an existing medical condition. Impaired breathing, internal irritation and general weakness must be presented to a doctor. A decrease in the usual performance and an increase in the need for sleep are evidence of an existing health disorder. Since a severe course of the disease can lead to premature death of the person concerned, the body should react accordingly at the first warning signals.
A doctor must be consulted as soon as shortness of breath or heart palpitations occur. Anxiety, the feeling of not having enough oxygen in the body and a pale appearance should be examined and treated. If you lose your inner strength and are unable to move around without help, you need to see a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
The standard therapy for Takayasu arteritis is long cortisone treatment. First, high doses of corticosteroids are used to reduce the inflammation in the blood vessels.
The dose is then slowly reduced as far as possible and continued for at least 6 months to two years before discontinuing the cortisone can be considered, under the strictest medical supervision with regular blood tests. If the corticosteroids do not bring about the desired success, treatment with immunosuppressants is indicated as a trial, although the effectiveness of such therapy has not yet been clinically confirmed. In the case of impending vascular occlusion, operations with lasers or balloon catheters are often carried out, in which an attempt is made to reopen the vessel.
A stent can also be used to stabilize a vessel. If left untreated, Takayasu’s arteritis is fatal in most cases. However, if therapy is started early, the prognosis for those affected is very good. The survival rate after 10 years is more than 90 percent. Serious complications occur in about 25 percent of sufferers.
In order to prevent Takayasu’s arteritis, due to the fact that the cause of the disease is largely unknown today, only general recommendations for a healthy lifestyle can be given, such as an adequate amount of exercise, a healthy, wholesome diet, the avoidance of tobacco products and the consumption of alcohol in moderation.
In most cases, those affected with Takayasu’s arteritis have only a few and only limited options for aftercare. The person concerned should first and foremost consult a doctor at an early stage so that complications or other symptoms do not arise later on. The sooner a doctor is consulted, the better the further course of the disease.
Most of those affected are dependent on a quick surgical intervention. There are no particular complications, although those affected should rest after the procedure and take care of their bodies. Here, exertion or stressful activities should be avoided in order not to unnecessarily burden the body. In the event of side effects or if anything is unclear, a doctor should always be consulted first, and he or she should also be consulted if you have any questions.
In many cases, those affected are also dependent on the help and care of their own families due to Takayasu’s arteritis. This primarily alleviates or prevents depression and other mental upsets. It cannot be universally predicted whether Takayasu arteritis will result in a reduced life expectancy for those affected. The earlier the disease is detected, the better the further course is, as a rule.
You can do that yourself
Takayasu’s arteritis is treated medically and surgically. The most important self-help measure is careful intake of the prescribed glucocorticoids and TNF blockers. In addition, unusual symptoms must be reported to the doctor.
A stabbing pain in the limbs, dizziness or pain suggest an aneurysm at risk of rupturing, which must be treated surgically. After an operation, the doctor’s instructions must be followed. A change in diet can further reduce the risk of an aneurysm. Patients should eat a healthy diet and avoid fatty or high-sugar foods. It is best to consult a nutritionist who can give further tips on nutrition and draw up a nutrition plan.
The responsible doctor can also put you in contact with a physiotherapist, who can give tips for physiotherapy measures. If the above measures are followed, the prognosis is good. According to a study, two-thirds of patients can live relatively symptom-free lives, but must continue to take the medication prescribed by the doctor to rule out serious complications.
In the case of an aneurysm, emergency medical care is required. The patient must then be treated in the hospital. It is important to close the bleeding in order to avoid serious health complications, including the death of the patient.