What is arteriosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis is also known as atherosclerosis or hardening of arteries. This is an inflammatory disease resulting in scarring of the arterial walls. Fatty material collects along the walls of arteries. Long term buildup of this fatty material (plaque) results in it thickening and hardening and eventually blocking the arteries. This leads to restriction in blood flow to tissues and organs .
Arteriosclerosis tends to attack the aorta, arteries leading to the brain, the lower limbs and kidneys. Arteriosclerosis of the extremities also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or peripheral arterial disease (PAD) occurs when the arteries of the legs and feet become narrow and stiff due to calcium deposits in the artery walls. This disease generally affects men over 50.
Arteriosclerosis is very prevalent in developed countries and is a very common cardiovascular disease. It has strongly been linked to diet and lifestyle.
What are the symptoms of arteriosclerosis / hardening of arteries?
Arteriosclerosis shows no symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms start showing after arteries get so clogged that blood supply is restricted to organs and tissues. Sometimes a blood clot can completely stop blood flow. Blood clots can even break apart and cause a heart attack or stroke.
Depending on where arteriosclerosis has attacked, the following symptoms emerge:
- Angina, a feeling of tightness or pressure in the heart. This is symptomatic of arteriosclerosis of the heart
- Sudden onset of localized paralysis, numbness in a limb, partial vision or speech loss, drooping facial muscles. These symptoms are associated with cerebral arteriosclerosis and can lead to stroke
- Cramps in buttocks, thighs, calfs while exercising or walking indicate arteriosclerosis in the leg or pelvic region.
- Atherosclerosis may also cause erectile dysfunction in men.