About takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)

What is takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)?

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Takayasu's arteritis is a form of vasculitis — inflammation of the blood vessels — that damages the large arteries, especially the aorta.

Chambers and valves of the heart Open pop-up dialog box Close Chambers and valves of the heart Chambers and valves of the heart

A typical heart has two upper and two lower chambers. The upper chambers, the right and left atria, receive incoming blood. The lower chambers, the more muscular right and left ventricles, pump blood out of the heart. The heart valves are gates at the chamber openings. They keep blood flowing in the right direction.

Takayasu's arteritis (tah-kah-YAH-sooz ahr-tuh-RIE-tis) is a rare type of vasculitis, a group of disorders that causes blood vessel inflammation. In Takayasu's arteritis, the inflammation damages the large artery that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body (aorta) and its main branches.

The disease can lead to narrowed or blocked arteries, or to weakened artery walls that may bulge (aneurysm) and tear. It can also lead to arm or chest pain, high blood pressure, and eventually heart failure or stroke.

If you don't have symptoms, you may not need treatment. But most people with the disease need medications to control inflammation in the arteries and to prevent complications. Even with treatment, relapses are common, and your symptoms may come and go.

What are the symptoms for takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)?

In the first stage, you're likely to feel unwell with:

  • Fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Mild Fever, sometimes accompanied by night sweats

Not everyone has these early signs and symptoms. It's possible for inflammation to damage arteries for years before you realize something is wrong.

Stage 2

During the second stage, inflammation causes arteries to narrow so less blood and oxygen and fewer nutrients reach your organs and tissues. Stage 2 signs and symptoms may include:

What are the causes for takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)?

With Takayasu's arteritis, the aorta and other major arteries, including those leading to your head and kidneys, can become inflamed. Over time the inflammation causes changes in these arteries, including thickening, narrowing and scarring.

No one knows exactly what causes the initial inflammation in Takayasu's arteritis. The condition is likely an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks your own arteries by mistake. The disease may be triggered by a virus or other infection.

What are the treatments for takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)?

Treatment of Takayasu's arteritis focuses on controlling inflammation with medications and preventing further damage to your blood vessels.

Takayasu's arteritis can be difficult to treat because the disease may remain active even if your symptoms improve. It's also possible that irreversible damage has already occurred by the time you're diagnosed.

On the other hand, if you don't have signs and symptoms or serious complications, you may not need treatment or you may be able to taper and stop treatment if your doctor recommends it.


Talk with your doctor about the drug or drug combinations that are options for you and their possible side effects. Your doctor may prescribe:

  • Corticosteroids to control inflammation. The first line of treatment is usually a corticosteroid, such as prednisone (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos). Even if you start feeling better, you may need to continue taking the drug long term. After a few months, your doctor may gradually begin to lower the dose until you reach the lowest dose you need to control inflammation. Eventually your doctor may tell you to stop taking the medication completely.

    Possible side effects of corticosteroids include weight gain, increased risk of infection and bone thinning. To help prevent bone loss, your doctor may recommend a calcium supplement and vitamin D.

  • Other drugs that suppress the immune system. If your condition doesn't respond well to corticosteroids or you have trouble as your medication dose is lowered, your doctor may prescribe drugs such as methotrexate (Trexall, Xatmep, others), azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran) and leflunomide (Arava). Some people respond well to medications that were developed for people receiving organ transplants, such as mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept). The most common side effect is an increased risk of infection.
  • Medications to regulate the immune system. If you don't respond to standard treatments, your doctor may suggest drugs that correct abnormalities in the immune system (biologics), although more research is needed. Examples of biologics include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade) and tocilizumab (Actemra). The most common side effect with these drugs is an increased risk of infection.


If your arteries become severely narrowed or blocked, you may need surgery to open or bypass these arteries to allow an uninterrupted flow of blood. Often this helps to improve certain symptoms, such as high blood pressure and chest pain. In some cases, though, the narrowing or blockage may happen again, requiring a second procedure.

Also, if you develop large aneurysms, surgery may be needed to prevent them from rupturing.

Surgical options are best performed when inflammation of the arteries has been reduced. They include:

  • Bypass surgery. In this procedure, an artery or a vein is removed from a different part of your body and attached to the blocked artery, providing a bypass for blood to flow through. Bypass surgery is usually performed when the narrowing of the arteries is irreversible or when there is significant obstruction to blood flow.
  • Blood vessel widening (percutaneous angioplasty). This procedure may be indicated if the arteries are severely blocked. During percutaneous angioplasty, a tiny balloon is threaded through a blood vessel and into the affected artery. Once in place, the balloon is expanded to widen the blocked area, then it's deflated and removed.
  • Aortic valve surgery. Surgical repair or replacement of the aortic valve may be needed if the valve is leaking significantly.

What are the risk factors for takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)?

Takayasu's arteritis primarily affects girls and women younger than 40. The disorder occurs worldwide, but it's most common in Asia. Sometimes the condition runs in families. Researchers have identified certain genes associated with Takayasu's arteritis.

Is there a cure/medications for takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis)?

There is no cure for takayasu disease (takayasu arteritis). However, a comprehensive treatment plan can be followed to improve the symptoms, reduce inflammation and prevent irreversible damage to artery walls. Takayasu disease or Takayasu Arteritis (TAK) is a type of vasculitis, a rare familial disorder characterized by inflammation of blood vessels. The condition affects the aorta and its branches, which resist the flow of blood, eventually damaging the vital organs and tissues.

Early detection and proper treatment will decrease the risk of severe complications, including,

  • Corticosteroids – This is the initial treatment plan that involves the utilization of steroids, including prednisone, which is prescribed at a high dosage in the first stage. After a certain period, the dosage will be reduced, in response to minimizing side effects.
  • Immunosuppressants – Medications such as methotrexate or azathioprine are used to suppress the action of the immune system and reduce the need for prednisone.
  • Biologics – Biologics are complex proteins produced from living organisms that are used to control inflammation and lower the need for steroid medications. However, the treatment still needs more scientific evidence.
  • Surgery – Vascular surgery will be suggested in some cases, when the arteries are potentially damaged or narrowed, or to resolve aneurysms.

Pain or weakness in limbs,Dizziness,Deadaches,Visual disturbances,High Blood Pressure,Diminished pulse,Anemia,Chest pain,Shortness of breath, Fatigue,Sudden weight loss,Troubled concentration

Hardening and narrowing of blood vessels,Aortic Valve damage,Heart failure,Aortic Aneurysm,Transient Ischemic Attack (Mini-stroke that can cause permanent damage),Heart attack,Pulmonary artery problems

Corticosteroids (Prednisone),Cytotoxic drugs (Methotrexate, Azathioprine),Biologics (Infliximab, Rituximab)

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