Health & Diet

Atherosclerosis – Symptoms And Treatment

130807- N- NN332-015Photo by Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet

Arteriosclerosis is a condition which happens when the blood vessels that carry nutrients and oxygen from your heart to the rest of your body become stiff and thick, and sometime even restrict blood flow to your tissues and organs.

Normally, healthy arteries are elastic and flexible, but over time, the walls of your arteries can harden, and this is also known as hardening of the arteries. The hardening of the arteries can trigger a blood clot. This condition is usually treatable and it can be prevented.


The are some common causes for hardening of the arteries, such as:

Fat: Foods which are high in fat can lead to plaque buildup.

Aging: As you age, your blood vessels and heart work harder to receive and pump blood in your body. Also, the arteries in your body become less elastic and weak, which makes them more susceptible to plaque buildup.


High Cholesterol: This substance is yellow and waxy. It can be naturally found in your body and also in some foods which you eat. Cholesterol can increase in your blood and clog your arteries. When that happens, it becomes a hard plaque which blocks or restricts circulation of the blood to your heart and other organs.


A lot of symptoms of atherosclerosis don’t show until a blockage happens. There are some common symptoms, such as:

– Fatigue
– Shortness of breath
– Chest pain
– Confusion
– Muscle weakness in the legs
– Pain in the arm, leg, and anywhere else where an artery is blocked

Since atherosclerosis can cause a stroke or heart attack, it is important to know their symptoms, as well, since they require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of a heart attack are:

– Sense of impending doom
– Nausea or vomiting
– Feeling of lightheadedness
– Perspiration
– Shortness of breath
– Abdominal pain
– Chest pain or Discomfort
– Pain in the back, neck, arms, shoulders, and jaw

Symptoms of stroke are:

– Sudden, severe headache
– Loss of balance
– Vision problems
– Trouble understanding speech
– Trouble speaking
– Numbness or weakness in the limbs or face


Change of your lifestyle to one which limits the amount of cholesterol and fat you consume is a treatment for atherosclerosis. In addition, you may need to workout more in order to improve your cardiovascular health. However, if that is not enough, than you may also need medical treatment, such as medications or surgery.


Medications which can help prevent atherosclerosis from worsening are:

– Calcium channel blockers or beta blockers to lower blood pressure
– Diuretics to help lower blood pressure
– Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs, like aspirin, to prevent clogging of arteries and blood clots
– Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, to prevent narrowing of the arteries
– Cholesterol-lowering medications, such as fibric and statins acid derivatives


If your symptoms are especially severe, you may need a surgery. Also, surgery is required if your skin tissue or muscle are endangered. The treatment of atherosclerosis may include surgeries such as:

Atherectomy: This is a nonsurgical procedure which removes plaque from your arteries using a catheter with a sharp blade at the top

Endarterectomy: This surgery removes fatty deposits from your artery

Angioplasty: This includes a flexible, thin tube called a catheter and balloon in order to expand your artery

Thrombolytic therapy: A drug injected into the affected artery dissolves a blood clot

Bypass surgery: A synthetic tube or a vessel from elsewhere in the body is used for diverting blood around a narrowed or blocked artery


The recommended healthy lifestyle changes for the treatment of atherosclerosis are also good for the prevention. These are:

– Eating healthy foods
– Maintaining a healthy weight
– Exercising regularly
– Quitting smoking

Make one change at a time, and remember what these changes give you in the long run.

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