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.
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
- 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 or low 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
- CT- Scan
- Ankle-brachial index
- Cardiac catheterization
- Blood Tests
Though, it cannot be cured further atherosclerosis can be prevented to grow or reduced over time by the following methods:
This includes some lifestyle adjustments including a nutritious, healthy diet and some exercises and steering clear from smoking.
Mild to moderate atherosclerosis may be treated by taking prescribed anticoagulants, beta-blockers, diuretics, ACE-inhibitors or cholesterol-lowering medications.
The doctor may perform a possible surgery for severe atherosclerosis which may include:
- By-Pass Surgery
- Thrombolytic Therapy