Prognosis of giant cell arteritis including temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. A follow-up study on ninety patients treated with corticosteroids

Acta Med Scand. 1981;209(5):337-45. doi: 10.1111/j.0954-6820.1981.tb11604.x.


Ninety patients with giant cell arteritis (GCA) were followed 3-10 years after the diagnosis. The mean observation time was 63 months. Thirteen patients died. Corticosteroids were administered to all but one patient; 35 were still on treatment after a mean observation period of 59 months. In 38 patients, 94 flare-ups of the disease were recorded during corticosteroid treatment, most of them occurring during the first year of treatment and when a low dose of prednisolone had been given. Thirty-three relapses, 76% within 3 months, occurred in 28 patients after withdrawal of treatment. One patient relapsed after more than ten years of disease. Polymyalgia rheumatica was the most common symptom of flare-up or relapse, regardless of the clinical picture at the time of diagnosis. The duration of treatment should be individualized. One year of treatment is enough in a few patients, whereas others need steroid therapy for more than four years. The rate of intercurrent disease and complications of GCA or its treatment was low. No patient developed severe eye damage due to GCA. The mortality rate was in fact lower than expected with regard to age and sex.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / complications
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / drug therapy
  • Giant Cell Arteritis / mortality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / complications
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / drug therapy
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica / mortality*
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence


  • Prednisolone