I have a testimony. God has brought me through so much. Here is a little information about the disease I battled.
Takayasu's Arteritis is a rare, chronic, inflammatory disease primarily of the aorta and its branches. The subclavian, renal, carotid, and the ascending aorta arteries can also be involved. Takayasu's Arteritis affects more females than males and usually begins in the 2nd or 3rd decade of life. TA is occasionally called "pulseless disease" because there is difficulty in detecting peripheral pulses that sometimes occurs as a result of the vascular narrowing. It is also common for a patient to exhibit vascular bruits, and symptoms of their arterial involvement. The cause of TA is not known.
Dizziness, fainting, low grade fever, muscle aches, weight loss, circulatory deficit, vision problems, angina, joint pain, claudication, malaise, hypertension, night sweats, stroke, fatigue.
The “typical” patient with Takayasu’s arteritis is a woman under the age of 40. There is a 9:1 female predominance in this disease. Although the disease has a worldwide distribution, it appears to occur more often in Asian women.
Takayasu’s arteritis is a rare disease. The best estimates of the disease frequency suggest that 2 or 3 cases occur each year per million people in a population.
Takayasu’s arteritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the largest blood vessel in the body (the aorta) and its branches. Thus, the complications of Takayasu’s arise directly or indirectly from damage to these blood vessels. The vasculitides are classified according to the size of blood vessel involved. Takayasu’s is the classic “large vessel” vasculitis.
In the systemic phase, patients have symptoms and signs of an active inflammatory illness. These may include “constitutional symptoms” (fever, fatigue, weight loss), arthritis, and non-specific aches and pains. There may be tenderness overlying affected arteries. Most patients have elevations of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate during the systemic phase.
The systemic phase is succeeded by the occlusive phase, during which patients begin to develop symptoms caused by the narrowing of affected arteries. These may include pain in the limbs that occurs during repetitive activities (“claudication”), such as pain in the arm that occurs while using a handsaw or pain in the calves brought on by walking. The symptoms also include dizziness upon standing up, headaches, and visual problems. During the occlusive phase, affected blood vessels may be narrowed to such an extent that the normal arterial pulsations (“pulses”) in the neck, elbow, wrist, or lower extremities cannot be felt. Using a stethoscope, one may also hear “bruits” (pronounced 'brew eez'), a harsh, “whooshing” sounds made by the flow of blood through abnormally narrowed vessels. High blood pressure is common, but blood pressures taken in the arms may be read as falsely low if there is a narrowing of an artery high up in the arm. With some patients, it is not possible to get accurate blood pressure readings in the arms. Using an ophthalmoscope, a physician may observe characteristic malformations of blood vessels that occur in advanced cases of Takayasu’s arteritis.
Although the lung involvement in Takayasu's is frequently overshadowed by involvement of systemic large blood vessels, the pulmonary arteries may also be affected in this disorder.
The cause of Takayasu’s arteritis is not known. Some evidence suggests that an infection of some kind — viral, bacterial, or other — occurring in a person with other predisposing factors (such as the correct genes), may lead to this disease. This is an attractive hypothesis, but definitive evidence for it is lacking.
Making the diagnosis of Takayasu’s arteritis can be extremely difficult. Unfortunately it is very common for the disease to smoulder in the walls of large blood vessels for years, causing only non-specific symptoms associated with the systemic phase of the illness (or no symptoms), until a major complication results. These major complications may include dilation of the aorta with "stretching" of the aortic valve in the heart; critically reduced blood flow to an arm or leg; a stroke caused by high blood pressure in vessels of the brain, and many others.
Once the diagnosis is suspected, it is usually confirmed by a radiographic procedure such as an angiogram or a magnetic resonance imaging study demonstrating significant large artery disease consistent with Takayasu’s. In some cases in which blood vessel damage is so severe as to necessitate surgery to repair the aortic valve, the aorta, or some other large blood vessel, physicians are able to make unequivocal diagnoses by looking at tissue from the involved blood vessels under the microscope. Takayasu’s arteritis is pathologically indistinguishable from giant cell arteritis. In both, destruction of the blood vessel wall and giant cells are frequently present.
The great majority of patients with Takayasu’s arteritis respond to prednisone. The usual starting dose is approximately 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight per day (for most people, this is approximately 60 milligrams a day). Because of the significant side–effects of long-term high–dose prednisone use, the starting dose is tapered over several weeks to a dose that the physician feels is tolerable for the patient.
For long–term treatment in addition to prednisone (as “steroid sparing agents”), methotrexate, azathioprine, and even cyclophosphamide are sometimes used. There have been few studies of the use of these medications in this disease.
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Just as Marci touched lives of many, we hope to continue the love she showed to all those we can reach.
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...I thank God for everything that I've been through because it's helping me minister to others...I feel very blessed to be able to do that and to tell you that it's gonna be ok and that God still does heal the way he did back in the day and he'll do it for you too.