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BACKGROUND: To examine the frequency of possible giant cell arteritis (GCA) symptoms (including headache, temporal/scalp tenderness, jaw claudication and visual symptoms) in newly diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) patients in UK primary care. METHODS: The PMR Cohort Study is a primary care inception cohort of 652 adults with newly diagnosed polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). At baseline, participants were asked to report (yes/no) on the presence of seven potential GCA symptoms: sudden headache, tender scalp, disturbed/double vision, jaw claudication, fever, appetite loss and unintentional weight loss. RESULTS: Of the 652 patients, 405 (62%) were female, with a mean (SD) age of 72.5 (8.9) years. Sudden headache was the commonest symptom in 161 patients (24.7%). The least commonly reported symptom was jaw claudication in 66 (10.1%) patients. Females had a higher prevalence of headache, tender scalp and jaw pain. Sudden onset headache and fever were commoner in younger patients, (OR (95% CI) per 10 year age band increase: headache 0.76 (0.62-0.92), fever 0.63 (0.49, 0.79)). In those reporting sudden headache (n = 161), 19.9% (n = 32) also reported double/disturbed vision and a tender scalp, whilst 11.8% (n = 19) reported double/disturbed vision and jaw pain. CONCLUSION: The data suggests possible GCA symptoms are common in PMR patients, particularly sudden headache, appetite loss and weight loss. These symptomatic PMR patients warrant careful monitoring and consideration for early referral to specialist services.

Original publication




Journal article


Bmc rheumatol

Publication Date





Giant cell arteritis, Headache, Polymyalgia rheumatica