Arteriosclerosis

 
 

Overview

Thickening and stiffening of the blood vessels cause restricted blood flow to the organs and tissues. Arteriosclerosis can cause a buildup of blood cells and fatty deposits in the arteries, which can enter the bloodstream and potentially cause a blood clot. 

There are three distinct types of arteriosclerosis:

  • Atherosclerosis
    • impacts the larger arteries in the body
  • Moenckeberg medial calcific sclerosis
    • affects the small- to medium-sized arteries
  • Arteriolosclerosis
    • generally only impacts the small arteries

Common Symptoms

While mild forms tend not to feature symptoms, moderate to severe cases might. Symptoms typically do not present until an artery is already narrowed or clogged, limiting its ability to supply enough blood or oxygen to the body. Blood clots may also occur before the appearance of symptoms, which can trigger either heart attacks or strokes. When symptoms do appear, they typically depend on which arteries are affected:

  • If the heart arteries are impacted, you might experience chest pain.
  • If the arteries leading to your brain are affected, you might experience numbness/weakness in your arms/legs, difficulty speaking, temporary vision loss in one eye, or drooping face muscles.
  • If the arteries in your arms or legs are impacted, leg pain when walking or decreased blood pressure in certain limbs may develop. 
  • If the arteries leading to your kidneys are affected, high blood pressure or kidney failure can occur.

Coexisting Diseases and Conditions

Coronary artery disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, aneurysms, chronic kidney disease, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and transient ischemic attacks.

Risk Factors and Prevalence

Aging is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis, as arteries harden as one grows older. Other risks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), diabetes, obesity, sleep apnea, tobacco use, a family history of early heart disease, a lack of exercise, and unhealthy diet.

Sources

  1. Article Sources and Footnotes
    1. Arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350569

    2. Arteriosclerosis Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Baptist Health. (n.d.). Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://www.baptisthealth.com/services/heart-care/conditions/arteriosclerosis

    3. Atherosclerosis. (n.d.). [Text]. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved July 15, 2021, from https://medlineplus.gov/atherosclerosis.html

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