Temporal Arteritis



What causes GCA is not known. The immune system attacks healthy arteries. This causes swelling. It is not known what causes the immune system to do this.

Risk Factors

GCA is more common in women and in people at least 50 years of age. It is also more common in people of northern European descent. Other things that raise the risk are:

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



A person with GCA may have:

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

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 reduce swelling
  • Medicines to change how the immune system works


GCA cannot be prevented.

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.