Atherosclerosis, commonly referred to as Arteriosclerosis is a condition when the arteries carrying blood and nutrients from the heart to the different parts of the body thickens and narrows down due to the build-up of plaque consisting fats, cholesterol and other substances like calcium and macrophages.

The malady usually occurs due to damage caused in the endothelium lining the arterial walls causing a build-up of bad cholesterol along the lining. Though the body sends WBC cells to shield the artery from the plaque, eventually, it gets stacked-up causing the plaque to grow bigger. In certain cases, the plaque may rupture causing a rush of platelets towards it which also gets caught up to the sticky plaque ultimately leading up to life-threatening situations and heart ailments like stroke, heart failure or sudden heart attacks.

A person may suffer from atherosclerosis due to high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, family history or an addiction towards smoking.

Atherosclerosis

Symptoms

Mild atherosclerosis doesn’t exhibit any specific symptoms but over time, the plaque build-up may cause clogging of the arteries restricting blood flow or even disrupt causing a heart attack or mild stroke.

Moderate to severe atherosclerosis may be identified by certain symptoms like:

  • Chest pain or Angina
  • Hypertension
  • Shortness of breath
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Slurred speech
  • Drooping face muscles
  • Temporary loss of vision in one eye
  • Pain in leg muscles

Diagnosis And Treatment

If you have any of the following symptoms mentioned above, it is strongly recommended to consult a doctor right away. The doctor may perform a physical examination like:

  • Checking the pulse rate via stethoscope
  • Checking a fall in blood pressure
  • Checking for a pulsating bulge near the knee or abdomen

It is followed by a series of tests to examine signs of narrowed or hardened arteries including:

  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Electrocardiogram
  • CT- Scan
  • Ankle-brachial index
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Angiogram
  • Blood Tests

Though, it cannot be cured further atherosclerosis can be prevented to grow or reduced over time by the following methods:

Lifestyle changes:

This includes some lifestyle adjustments including a nutritious, healthy diet and some exercises and steering clear from smoking.

Medication:

Mild to moderate atherosclerosis may be treated by taking prescribed anticoagulants, beta-blockers, diuretics, ACE-inhibitors or cholesterol-lowering medications.

Surgery:

The doctor may perform a possible surgery for severe atherosclerosis which may include:

  • By-Pass Surgery
  • Endarterectomy
  • Angioplasty
  • Atherectomy
  • Thrombolytic Therapy