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Arteriosclerosis and Atherosclerosis

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

By Sneha Kumar


Arteriosclerosis is the thickening and hardening of the walls of arteries in our body as they become narrower. This often restricts the free flow of blood to other organs and tissues which can further lead to severe complications.


Atherosclerosis is the occurrence of Arteriosclerosis specifically due to the deposition of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in or on the walls of arteries. This deposition can be referred to as plaque and the abnormality seen in the walls of the arteries due to the deposition of plaque is called atherosclerosis lesions.


What Causes Atherosclerosis?

The exact cause of Atherosclerosis is still unknown, but it’s been derived that it is a rather slow, progressive vascular disease that gradually worsens overtime if not taken care of. The common anticipated causes of Atherosclerosis are:

  • High Cholesterol Levels and triglyceride levels

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Diabetes Mellitus (type 1 diabetes)

  • Obesity, Insulin resistance or physical inactivity

  • Smoking

Complications


Complications of Atherosclerosis can be life threatening, some include:

  • The occurrence of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries can cause coronary artery disease which can even lead to a heart attack.

  • Carotid artery disease, Atherosclerosis lesions found in the arteries supplying blood to the brain may cause Transient Cardiac Ischemia (TIA) or stroke.

  • Forming of clots in the blood stream. Plaque deposits over the damaged area of the artery walls. If this plaque detaches from the walls of the arteries and enters the blood stream it would result in the formation of clots which would prevent flow of blood to certain organs and tissues in our body.

  • Aneurysms, Atherosclerosis can occur in any artery located anywhere in the body like legs, pelvis causing slow circulation of blood, and slowing the healing mechanism of our body.

  • Chronic Kidney disease, the occurrence of atherosclerosis in the arteries carrying oxygenated blood to kidneys prevents oxygen from reaching them. Due to the lack of oxygen, the main function of the kidney that is excreting the waste urea/ uric acid from our body will not be carried out.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Atherosclerosis widely vary from the kind of artery it affects and how severe the condition is.

  • Atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries (the arterial blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the heart muscle), symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath and Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rate)

  • Atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries (the arterial blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the brain), symptoms include stroke, Weakness, loss of awareness of surroundings, Paralysis or numbness in the face, arms, or legs, Breathing problems, Dizziness, Sudden and severe headache

  • Atherosclerosis in the peripheral arteries (the arterial blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the arms, legs, pelvis), symptoms include pain and numbness in the area affected.

  • Atherosclerosis in the Renal arteries (the arterial blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the kidneys), symptoms include nausea, change in the occurrence of excretion of urea, Fatigue, loss of appetite, itchiness or numbness.

Prevention

Atherosclerosis is most likely to affect the old-age population and can be treated via medication and surgery like Coronary angioplasty and Coronary artery bypass graft surgery. It can be prevented by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle routine, we can do so by:

  • Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly

  • Keeping our cholesterol and sugar levels in control

  • Quitting smoking

  • Checking regularly and maintaining appropriate blood pressure

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