Giant Cell Arteritis Can be Caused by the Herpes Virus

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giant cell arteritis

A study published in the medical journal Neurology found VZV in “74% of temporal arteries pathologically positive for GCA.” – Medscape (1)

Herpes zoster is a condition caused by a herpes virus. The varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox, and later in life the virus can cause herpes zoster (shingles).

The authors of a study wrote that “Our analysis, which is the largest to-date, provides compelling evidence that the virus also reactivates in people over 60 in another way, triggering giant cell arteritis. (GCA)”

GCA is a condition that causes “an inflammation of the lining of your arteries – the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Most often, it affects the arteries in your head, especially those in your temples. For this reason, giant cell arteritis is sometimes called temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis.



Those who develop GCA may experience “headaches, jaw pain, and blurred or double vision. Blindness and, less often, stroke are the most serious complications of giant cell arteritis.”

The Mayo Clinic says that the time to see a doctor is “if you develop a new, persistent headache or any of the problems listed above, see your doctor without delay.

If you’re diagnosed with giant cell arteritis, starting treatment as soon as possible can usually help prevent blindness.” (2)

The bottom line?

VZV can potentially lead to giant cell arteritis, and eventually blindness. 


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