Thirty nine patients with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) and 35 with giant cell arteritis (GCA) were treated with high or low dose steroid regimens in a prospective study of the first two months of treatment. Patients with PMR needed 15-20 mg prednisolone initially; 13/20 (65%) relapsed on an initial dose of 10 mg/day. All but two patients with GCA were successfully treated with 40 mg/day prednisolone initially but relapsed on a reduction to 20 mg/day. One patient with GCA receiving 30 mg/day relapsed after four weeks. Six patients with PMR developed GCA during the first two months and required an increased prednisolone dose to control symptoms. The erythrocyte sedimentation rate or C reactive protein did not predict relapse.
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