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Arteriosclerosis : Definition, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Wednesday, August 8th 2012. | Artery Health, Disease

Atherosclerosis Definition

Atherosclerosis is the formation of a hard plate, which contains calcium, cholesterol and other substances, and not limited only to clog arteries.

This growth is not immediate, but insidious. The main factors for the appearance of this problem are the increased levels of blood cholesterol and smoking. The arteries become more rigid (sclerosis means hardening) and the plates are formed.

Atherosclerosis Symptoms

  • In the brain, the appearance of an atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid artery (one of the main arteries supplying the brain) can lead to the formation of a blood clot. This can cause thrombus allowing blood to stuck part of the brain. This causes paralysis that usually affects half of the body.
  • In the arteries of the heart, the formation of these plates leads to the reduction of irrigation infarction, followed by the appearance of angina, myocardial infarction or heart failure .
  • In the aorta, the appearance of plaques may develop leading to aneurysm expansion.
  • In the kidney, atherosclerosis causes high blood pressure and kidney failure, reduced renal blood flow and thus renal function filtering.
  • When atherosclerotic plaques affect the arteries of the legs, they can lead to intermittent claudication. This phenomenon is characterized by leg pain when walking.
hard plate


Atherosclerosis Risk Factors

Atherosclerosis affects virtually everyone. It usually begins in people age 20 and the process continues slowly. The process may be accelerated based on risk factors:

  • Family history
  • Smoke
  • Diabetes type 1 and type 2
  • Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Increased levels of blood cholesterol
  • Overweight

Atherosclerosis Treatment

There are no specific medications to treat arteriosclerosis. Some patients may receive drugs to reduce cholesterol, reducing the progression of the disease and the possibility of rupture of atherosclerotic plaques. Sometimes drugs like aspirin can be prescribed to reduce blood clotting in some patients, to reduce the risk of blood clots.

The consequences of atherosclerosis in coronary arteries can be treated with medication and exceptionally surgery. These drugs are administered to reduce the work required in the heart to pump blood and increase the diameter of the arteries that are reduced by atherosclerotic plaques.

The surgical methods include:

Dilatation of the artery with a balloon (balloon angioplasty)

This procedure involves inserting a catheter with a balloon at its tip into an artery (usually the artery in the groin). The artery dilation is complete when the balloon is inflated.


The artery is literally open to remove plaque that is inside. This type of operation is performed mainly in the carotid arteries.


This is an operation that takes blood from a healthy area to another area to try to jump the occluded artery.

What can you do to prevent arteriosclerosis?

  • Stop smoking.
  • Choose a varied diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, trying to avoid saturated fats found mostly in animal fats.
  • Avoid overweight.
  • More exercise.
  • Have a good command of hypertension and diabetes.
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