Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences




Background/aim: Patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases faced several challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uncertainties such as the lack of evidence regarding the use of immunosuppressive (IS) therapies and deferred patient care because of limited health resources affected negatively on many aspects of treatment decisions and routine follow-up of the patients. In this study, we aimed to investigate the prevalence and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the impact of the pandemic on delays in routine clinical follow-up, changes in IS treatment, and COVID-19 vaccination status of patients with Takayasu arteritis (TAK). Materials and methods: The study was performed between July and September 2021. TAK patients who registered in our database were investigated with regards to the COVID-19 infection and vaccination status, delays in routine clinical visits, changes in their IS treatments, and flares during the pandemic. Physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging of the patients were performed and ITAS2010 scores were calculated. Results: There were 56 adult TAK patients (87.5% female and median age 47 years). A total of 44 (78.6%) patients experienced a delay with routine follow-up visits to their physicians and about 20% of patients stopped their antirheumatic treatments without consulting their physicians. Compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic, 16 (28.5%) patients flared. In total group, 13 (23.2%) patients had a mild COVID-19 infection and about 90% of the patients had received the COVID-19 vaccine. Conclusion: Deferred patient care and disease flares are the most significant problems in TAK patients during the pandemic. The risk of TAK flares may outweigh the risk of COVID-19 infection.

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