What is Arteriosclerosis?

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Arteriosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries. It’s a gradual process that will restrict blood flow to one’s organs and tissues. Arteriosclerosis may develop into atherosclerosis which can cause the following health problems:
  • heart disease
  • strokes
  • circulation problems in the arms and legs
  • aneurysms
  • chronic kidney disease
Symptoms: There usually are no arteriosclerosis symptoms. Even mild atherosclerosis doesn’t have any symptoms. As arteriosclerosis progresses, the following symptoms may show up:
  • Chest pain or pressure
  • Sudden arm or leg weakness numbness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Brief loss of vision in one eye
  • Drooping facial muscles
  • Pain when walking
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney failure
If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Causes: Several factors can contribute to arteriosclerosis:
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance or diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking or use of other tobacco products
  • Bad diet
Except for these factors, family history is a risk factor. People with a family history of heart disease or arteriosclerosis are at higher risk for the condition. Diagnosis: To diagnose the condition, physician will ask questions about your medical history and do a physical exam. After that, advanced diagnostic procedures and technology will be used. It may conclude:
  • Ankle brachial index test: helps doctors understand if there is decreased blood flow to the lower legs and feet.
  • Blood test: check the levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar and protein in the blood that could indicate heart conditions.
  • CT scan: provides a more detailed picture than an ultrasound.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG): helps determine if parts of the heart are enlarged, overworked or damaged.
  • Stress testing: shows changes to the heart’s rate, rhythm or electrical activity as well as blood pressure.
  • Ultrasound: help the physician determine if you have any blockages and how quickly blood flows through your arteries.
Early diagnosis is of vital importance for managing arteriosclerosis, so it must be emphasized. Medication:
  • Cholesterol medications: protect heart arteries.
  • Aspirin: prevent platelets from forming blood clots.
  • Beta blocker medications: reduce blood pressure and heart rate; diminish chest pains, the risk of heart attack and irregular heart rhythm.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE): lower blood pressure and the possibility of heart attack.
  • Calcium channel blockers and diuretics (water pills): reduce blood pressure.
  • A clot-busting drug: dissolve blood clots.
Your physician may also prescribe other medications, based on your needs. Prevention:
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat healthy food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
As mentioned before, early diagnosis is critical. If you think you have arteriosclerosis, contact your doctor as soon as you can. Keywords: arteriosclerosis; symptoms; causes; diagnosis; medication; prevention.