Takayasu arteritis is an inflammation of the aorta -- the artery that carries blood from the heart to the rest of the body -- and its major branches.
See also: Aortic arch syndrome
The cause of Takayasu arteritis is unknown. The disease occurs mainly in children and women younger than 30, especially those who are of Asian or African descent.
It appears to be an autoimmune condition, where immune cells are wrongly targeted against the body's own tissues, and it may involve other systems.
There may also be signs of inflammation (pericarditis or pleuritis).
Treatment of Takayasu arteritis is difficult, but patients who do have the right treatment can see positive results. Early detection is important.
Most patients are treated with steroids and immunosuppressive drugs. Surgery is reserved for complications caused by narrowed arteries.
Surgery to bypass narrowed arteries -- angioplasty or stent placement -- may be needed to supply blood or open up the constriction.
This disease can be fatal. However, with a combination of aggressive medical and surgical treatment, death rates have dropped dramatically.
In well-managed cases of Takayasu arteritis, the long-term survival rate is greater than 90%. The survival rate is better for adults than for children.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of this condition. Weak pulse, chest pain, and breathing difficulty require immediate care.