Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is considered to be a benign disease by some, while others think it is a more serious illness which required similar treatment to giant cell arteritis (GCA). The progress of 85 patients with PMR who presented to a district general hospital has been studied in an attempt to study this relationship. Thirty-eight patients had PMR alone, and 14 developed PMR and GCA within 1 month. Five patients presented with GCA and then developed PMR, and 28 patients developed symptoms of GCA after presenting with PMR (PMR leads to GCA). Arteritis and complications developed up to 9 years after the onset of PMR (mean 1 year). Twenty-two patients (26%) developed some cerebral or visual complication. Fifteen of these patients were in the PMR leads to GCA group. All 6 patients with permanent loss of vision were in this group. Seven patients developed complications while on corticosteroids. 97% of patients required corticosteroids for at least 1 year; 32% of patients still required 10 mg of prednisone or more after 1 year. PMR is not a benign disease.
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