Atherosclerosis is the deposition of fatty materials on the endothelium (a thin layer or cells lining the arteries). This build-up of materials or plaque is usually caused by smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Atherosclerosis shows no symptoms at a younger age, but only in the middle and older age groups.
The common symptoms of Atherosclerosis include:
- Chest pain or angina
- Pain in parts of the body where an artery might be blocked
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion due to blocked circulation
- Weakening of leg muscles
The plaque that is formed as a result of Atherosclerosis, is responsible for a number of cardiovascular conditions, mainly:
- Coronary Artery disease
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Peripheral artery disease
A physical exam is recommended for those with the aforementioned symptoms. If your doctor finds signs of narrowed, hardened or enlarged arteries in addition to:
- Weakened pulse or absent pulse below the narrowed artery
- Whooshing sounds heard through a stethoscope in your arteries
- Decreased blood pressure
In all these cases, the doctor may recommend blood tests, Doppler ultrasound, ankle-brachial index, electrocardiogram, stress tests, cardiac catheterization and angiogram; and other imaging tests.
Once diagnosed with Atherosclerosis, it is unlikely that the blockage created by the build-up of plaque might go away. However, doctors recommend certain ways in which this condition can be managed through certain lifestyle adjustments and adequate medication.
A Better Lifestyle:
A healthy and more active lifestyle is recommended by doctors. This includes kicking unhealthy habits such as smoking and taking to a healthy diet and including some amount of exercise in your daily life.
Ensure that you take your high blood pressure and anti cholesterol pills which can help curb the growth of Atherosclerosis further and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.