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Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Peripheral Artery Disease in Patients With Giant-Cell Arteritis FREE

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The full report is titled “Risk for Cardiovascular Disease Early and Late After a Diagnosis of Giant-Cell Arteritis. A Cohort Study.” It is in the 21 January 2014 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 160, pages 73-80). The authors are G. Tomasson, C. Peloquin, A. Mohammad, T.J. Love, Y. Zhang, H.K. Choi, and P.A. Merkel.

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Ann Intern Med. 2014;160(2):I-22. doi:10.7326/P14-9003
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Giant-cell arteritis (GCA) is a disease involving inflammation of blood vessels. It is sometimes called “temporal arteritis,” and it can lead to blindness if it is not treated. Some studies have suggested that patients with GCA may be at increased risk for other blood vessel diseases, including heart attacks; strokes; and blockages of arteries providing blood to other parts of the body, such as the legs (“peripheral artery disease”).

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether patients with GCA have an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease.

Who was studied?

3408 patients with a new diagnosis of GCA and 17,027 people without GCA.

How was the study done?

The researchers collected data on whether patients with a new diagnosis of GCA subsequently had a heart attack, a stroke, or peripheral artery disease. They did the same among a group of people with similar characteristics but without a diagnosis of GCA to see whether patients with GCA had these problems more often.

What did the researchers find?

Patients with GCA had higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease than people without GCA. The increased risk for these problems was most pronounced during the first month after the diagnosis of GCA was made.

What were the limitations of the study?

This type of study cannot tell whether having GCA caused more heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease. Other factors common to both GCA and these other problems (such as the severity of other risks) may have caused the findings.

What are the implications of the study?

Physicians and patients should be aware of the apparent increase in risk for heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral artery disease if a diagnosis of GCA is made so that any appropriate preventative measures may be taken and early warning signs may be noted and treated promptly.





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