Myocardial infarction and coronary artery involvement in giant cell arteritis

Optom Vis Sci. 1999 Jan;76(1):14-8. doi: 10.1097/00006324-199901000-00024.


Purpose: To describe the pathologic findings in an unusual case of giant cell arteritis that presented initially with visual loss and rapidly culminated in myocardial infarction.

Case report: After the death of the patient, a complete autopsy was performed, including bilateral enucleation. All specimens, including a temporal artery biopsy completed before the patients death, were processed for routine paraffin histology and initially stained with hematoxylin and eosin. Elastic stains were subsequently used on specimens of temporal and coronary artery. The patient presented with loss of vision in the right eye. The clinical diagnosis was anterior ischemic optic neuropathy, secondary to temporal arteritis. The temporal artery biopsy was positive. Despite high-dose corticosteroid administration, the patient progressed to neurologic impairment, and subsequently to a fatal myocardial infarction.

Discussion: Previous reports of temporal arteritis with coronary involvement are summarized. Myocardial infarction may be a more common early complication of temporal arteritis than appreciated previously. This important complication can occur despite administration of high-dose corticosteroid therapy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / complications*
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / drug therapy
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / pathology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myocardial Infarction / drug therapy
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology*
  • Myocardial Infarction / pathology
  • Optic Neuropathy, Ischemic / drug therapy
  • Optic Neuropathy, Ischemic / etiology
  • Optic Neuropathy, Ischemic / pathology
  • Temporal Arteries / pathology


  • Glucocorticoids