What is the international prevalence of giant cell arteritis (GCA) (temporal arteritis)?

Updated: Sep 10, 2020
  • Author: Mythili Seetharaman, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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The prevalence of GCA depends heavily on the number of individuals aged 50 years or older; the mean age of onset is 75 years. Countries with a lower life expectancy have a lower prevalence. Incidence figures reporting biopsy-proven GCA may be lower than those that include clinically diagnosed cases of GCA.

The annual incidence in northern European countries has been reported to be more than 20 cases per 100,000 people over the age of 50 years. A United Kingdom study reported an incidence of 22 per 100,000 in that age group. [34] Scandinavian countries report the highest incidence of GCA—up to 32.4 per 100,000 individuals over the age of 50 years.

The annual incidence in southern European countries has been reported to be less than 12 cases per 100,000 people. In Lugo, Spain, the average annual incidence for the population aged 50 years and older was 10 cases per 100,000 people.

In Canada, the estimated incidence of biopsy-proven GCA for the population aged older than 50 years is 4.9 to 9.4 cases per 100,000 people. [36] A series comprising all adult subjects undergoing autopsy at two hospitals in southern Sweden revealed arteritis in 1.6% of 889 cases, suggesting that GCA may be more common than is clinically apparent. [37]

The incidence of GCA in Saudi Arabia is probably less than in the United States and Western Europe. In 1998, Bosley and Riley reported only 4 positive biopsy results from 72 temporal artery biopsies performed over a 15-year period in Saudi patients. [38]

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