Giant cell arteritis, or GCA, is one of a group of conditions referred to as vasculitis, meaning inflammation in the blood vessels. It’s called an arteritis because it affects the arteries rather than the veins.
GCA is quite often associated with a condition called polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), which causes severe stiffness of the muscles, particularly in the shoulders and hips. About 15% of PMR patients also develop GCA, while 40–50% of people with GCA also have symptoms of PMR.
GCA patients need high doses of steroids, sometimes for many years or even for life. Long term use of these drugs may cause many health problems, including diabetes, eye problems, osteoporosis and damage to the adrenal glands.
Current research is focusing on steroid-sparing drugs, in particular bio drugs such as Tocilizumab.
Donations to this small charity will help both in finding a cure and improving the quality of life for sufferers of this debilitating condition.