Arteritis is an inflammation of the artery walls. This phenomenon occurs mainly in the temporal artery (Horton's disease) and retinal artery (which irrigates the eye). As for the lower limbs (arteritis that obliterates the lower limbs or PAD), the mechanism is different: PAD is most often associated with fat deposits (atherosclerosis
) and with inflammation in and of itself.
Arteritis manifests itself differently depending on the region of the body in which it appears.
As for the temporal and retinal arteries, arteritis causes:
- vision problems,
- pain and muscle weakness,
- weight loss.
In the lower limbs, arteritis causes:
- a limp (intermittent claudication)
- cramps in the legs (especially the foot and calf)
- Pain when not moving off and gradually during the night.
The diagnosis of arteritis is made when the doctor finds that the symptoms mentioned are associated with a decrease in the possibility to feel a pulse (at the affected artery, femoral or temporal pulse in regards to the lower limbs). Additional tests will confirm the diagnosis: Doppler exam (to visualize the fluctuation of blood in the arteries), arteriography (an X-ray to visualize the arterial system with the injection of a product that is visible on the scan).
The treatment of temporal arteritis or Horton's disease often calls for corticosteroids.
The treatment of atherosclerosis consists in removing or controlling all risk factors for this disease (cholesterol, smoking, overweight, blood pressure, diabetes). In addition, the patient is asked to walk every day. He may also be prescribed medicines to prevent blood clots (plasticizers) and dilate the arteries (vasodilators). In some cases, one must proceed with a surgical procedure to dilate vessels using a small balloon. Other surgical methods exist: unblocking arteries or creating a bypass around the blocked part of the artery.
Prevention of arteritis can be achieved by following certain rules:
- have a healthy diet, that is to say, eat in a way that is healthy, varied and balanced;
- have a healthy lifestyle practicing sports on a regular basis (or at least walk every day for half an hour);
- Under no circumstances smoke or drink alcohol;
- deal with problems such as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, but also overweightness;
- see a doctor regularly if there is a history of arteritis in your family.
Original article published by
. Translated by Jeff