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Objective: To investigate the elastic properties of the ascending aorta in untreated patients with giant cell arteritis compared with age and sex matched normal controls.
Methods: Distensibility of the ascending aorta and aortic strain were measured in 22 patients with a recent diagnosis of giant cell arteritis (documented by a positive temporal artery biopsy) before initiation corticosteroid treatment, and in 44 age and sex matched healthy subjects. Aortic distensibility was calculated as 2×[pulsatile change in aortic diameter]/[(diastolic aortic diameter)×(aortic pulse pressure)], and aortic strain as [pulsatile change in aortic diameter]/[diastolic aortic diameter]. Aortic diameters were measured by echocardiography. Aortic pressures were obtained by external sphygmomanometry.
Results: Distensibility of the ascending aorta and aortic strain were both lower in patients with giant cell arteritis than in the controls (p<0.01). In the patients with giant cell arteritis, aortic distensibility was inversely correlated with white blood cell count (p<0.05), but not with erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C reactive protein.
Conclusions: Compared with healthy subjects, aortic distensibility and aortic strain are decreased in patients with giant cell arteritis before initiation of corticosteroid treatment. There was an association between the degree of reduction of aortic distensibility and the white blood cell count in the patient group.