What is the outlook for patients with Takayasu's arteritis?
In the United States and Japan, only about 3% of patients with Takayasu's arteritis die after having the disease for an average period of 5 years. This encouraging statistic is the product of recognizing the disease and treating it appropriately. Reports from certain other parts of the world have been less optimistic. This may be the result of delayed recognition and treatment or poor access to care.
For patients who live long lives, in spite of having Takayasu's disease, there are significant problems that must be recognized. Having a chronic illness requires periodic evaluation and adjustment of drugs whenever necessary. The drugs for TAK have side effects, and these must be monitored by a doctor, as well as by blood tests. The effects of illness on function may be significant.
In our experience, 25% of patients have an entirely normal lifestyle. Another 25% have had to make some adjustments in their activities. About half of our patients had to modify their jobs and some within that group were occupationally disabled.
TAK is clearly a treatable disease, and most patients improve. However, it is apparent that many patients have to deal with consequences of this illness that may be partially, or less often, completely disabling. These effects can be minimized by a team of doctors that includes specialists in vascular and immunologic diseases (rheumatology, immunology, radiology, vascular medicine, vascular and cardiac surgery). For best results, a team leader should coordinate diagnostic tests and the different forms of treatment that TAK patients may require.