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Invited Commentary
August 8, 2019

Giant Cell Arteritis in Black Patients: Do We Know How Rare It Is?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(10):1180-1181. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2019.2933

Most earlier studies of giant cell arteritis (GCA) evaluated populations that were predominantly white,1 and consequently epidemiologic data of other races are relatively deficient.1-3 In this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, Gruener and colleagues4 address the risk of having GCA among black patients, who in 2010 constituted 12.4% of the US population.5 Specifically, they evaluated the incidence of biopsy-supported GCA during a 10-year period at the Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, a city with a relatively high percentage of people who identify as black. Among all patients in the study, 92 of 573 (16.1%) 50 years or older had a positive temporal artery biopsy finding; this cohort consisted of 14 black patients, 75 white patients, and 3 patients of other race/ethnicity. To estimate the incidence rate of GCA in white and black patients, the authors adjusted their rates of biopsy results to the US Census population. Their analysis provided a similar incidence estimate of GCA in black and white patients, a finding that contrasts with the received wisdom of many neuro-ophthalmologists and rheumatologists. Several relevant factors should be considered when trying to interpret the meaning of the results from this report.

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