Temporal Arteritis



The exact cause of GCA is unknown. The immune system attacks healthy arteries. This causes inflammation. It is not known what causes the immune system to be overactive.

Risk Factors

GCA is more common in women and in people 50 years old and older. It is also more common in people of northern European decent. Other things that raise the risk are:

  • Smoking
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica —causes stiffness and pain the neck, shoulder, or hip muscles



GCA may cause:

  • Fever and night sweats
  • Tiredness
  • Loss of hunger and weight loss
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Headaches or pain in the scalp, jaw, or tongue
  • Vision problems


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam and eye exam may be done.

Tests include:

  • Blood tests—to look for inflammation and rule out other causes
  • Biopsy of the temporal artery
  • Ultrasound

These are used to confirm the diagnosis.

Other imaging may also be done such as MRI, PET scan, and CAT scan.



Treatment will begin as soon as GCA is suspected. It may involve:

  • Corticosteroids—to lower inflammation
  • Medicines to change how the immune system works


There are no known guidelines to prevent GCA.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.