Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is typically treated with high doses of corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation in the arteries. Corticosteroids should be started promptly (perhaps even before the diagnosis is confirmed with a biopsy). If not treated, GCA may cause permanent vision loss or a stroke. The symptoms of GCA usually quickly disappear with treatment, but high doses of corticosteroids are typically maintained for 1 month. It is known that the treatment is working when the symptoms are gone and the sedimentation rate, also known as sed rate (a blood test that measures the level of inflammatory activity), is normal. The corticosteroid dose may gradually be reduced. Other medicines may help to reduce the doses of corticosteroids.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of under the skin injection (subcutaneous) of tocilizumab (Brand name: Actemra) to treat adults with giant cell arteritis. Remember that only your doctor can prescribe a medication, so please talk to your doctor to find out if this medication may be right for you.
Last updated: 10/5/2017
Are there alternate therapies to prednisone?
While corticosteroids remain the treatment of choice, due to their potential side-effects, other therapies have been considered. Anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy (infliximab and etanercept) has been utilized in some patients with longstanding corticosteroid-resistant temporal arteritis who are at risk for adverse events. Other possible therapies include cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, dapsone, tocilizumab, rituximab, and abatacept, though none of these is routinely recommended.
Last updated: 9/19/2011
We hope this information is helpful. We strongly recommend you discuss this information with your doctor. If you still have questions, please