Objective: To assess the potential influence of the age in the clinical spectrum of giant cell arteritis (GCA).
Methods: The case records of all patients diagnosed with biopsy-proven GCA at the Department of Medicine of the Hospital Xeral-Calde (Lugo, Northwest Spain) between 1981 and 2006 were reviewed.
Results: During the period of study, 273 Lugo residents were diagnosed with biopsy-proven GCA. The mean age +/- standard deviation at the time of disease diagnosis was 75.1+/-6.8 years (median: 75 years; interquartile range 71-80 years). A longer delay to the diagnosis was observed in patients younger than 70 years of age (13.2+/-12.8 weeks) compared to those 70 years and older (9.4+/-10.2 weeks) (p=0.03). Patients younger than 70 years presented more frequently polymyalgia rheumatica (p=0.02), cerebrovascular accidents (p=0.004), peripheral arteriopathy of recent onset due to large artery stenosis (p=0.03) and high alkaline phosphatase values (p=0.001) than those 70 years and older. Individuals 70-79 years of age at the time of disease diagnosis had ESR values (90.2+/-22.8 mm/1st hour) lower than those observed in patients younger than 70 years (98.3+/-22.2 mm/1st hour) or 80 years and older (99.5+/-20.6 mm/1st hour) (p=0.005). However, no significant differences in the frequency of visual ischemic complications according to the age at the time of disease diagnosis were observed.
Conclusion: The results from this study display differences in the clinical spectrum of the disease according to the age of disease onset.