Medical Dictionary Search Engines

Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.


Search For


Specialty Search




Other encyclopedia topics: A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9   

Takayasu arteritis

Alternative names

Pulseless disease


Takayasu arteritis is an inflammmation of the aorta and its major branches.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The cause of Takayasu arteritis is unknown. The disease occurs primarily in children and young women younger than 30, many of whom are of Asian or African descent. It appears to be an autoimmune condition, where immune cells are wrongly targeted against the body's own tissues, and may involve other systems.

Because of changes in the aorta and its branches that feed the head, neck, and upper limb areas, patients may have decreased or absent radial pulses ( pulse in the wrist) and pain in the arm and forearm. Inflammation in the carotid arteries (large arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain) may cause visual problems or neurological problems such as dizziness or stroke. Decreased blood flow to the kidneys often causes hypertension (high blood pressure). The formation of aneurysms may lead to rupture of the affected vessel.

Systemic complaints may include fever , rash , muscle aches ( myalgia ), and arthritis . Chest pain can develop due to inflammation of either the lining of the chest cavity ( pleuritis ) or the sac-like covering of the heart ( pericarditis ), or due to heart attack ( myocardial infarction ).

The survival rate is better for adults than for children.


  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased or absent radial pulses
  • Skin rash
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats

Signs and tests

  • High blood pressure ( hypertension )
  • Decreased radial pulses (at the wrist) with normal femoral pulses (groin)
  • Difference in blood pressure between the two arms

There may also be signs of inflammation of the lining around the heart ( pericarditis ) or inflammation of the lining of the lungs ( pleuritis ).


  • CBC
  • ESR ( erythrocyte sedimentation rate )
  • ZSR (zeta sedimentation rate), which is similar to an ESR
  • Immunoelectrophoresis - serum
  • X-ray of the chest
  • Arteriogram
  • ECG


Treatment of Takayasu arteritis is difficult, but results with appropriate therapy are encouraging. Early detection is important. Steroids and immunosuppressive agents form the cornerstone of treatment, with surgery reserved for complications caused by narrowed arteries.

Surgery to bypass narrowed arteries may be necessary to supply blood beyond the constriction.

Expectations (prognosis)

This disease can be fatal. However, with a combination of aggressive medical and surgical therapy, mortality (death) rates have dropped dramatically. In well-managed cases of Takayasu arteritis, the long-term survival rate is greater than 90%.


  • Pericarditis
  • Pleuritis
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition. Weak pulses, chest pain , and difficulty breathing indicate a need to be seen immediately.

Update Date: 5/30/2002

Arinder Chadha, M.D., Rheumatology Department, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

©2009 [Privacy Policy] [Disclaimer]
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT