What is Arteriosclerosis?

Cathy Rogers
Cathy Rogers
A diagram of the aorta. The abdominal aorta is a common site for arteriosclerosis.
A diagram of the aorta. The abdominal aorta is a common site for arteriosclerosis.

Arteriosclerosis refers to several diseases in which the arterial wall thickens and loses its elasticity. Commonly confused with atherosclerosis, which is the formation of plaques consisting of cholesterol and other substances on the arterial walls, arteriosclerosis is the thickening and stiffening of the artery walls from too much pressure. Atherosclerosis can lead to arteriosclerosis, which comes from the Greek for “hardening of the arteries.”

Arteriosclerosis can be detected through use of a stethoscope.
Arteriosclerosis can be detected through use of a stethoscope.

The most common sites for arteriosclerosis are arteries in the brain, kidneys, heart, abdominal aorta, or legs. Symptoms of arteriosclerosis vary according to which arteries are affected. Leg pain when exercising might indicate peripheral arterial disease. Sudden weakness or dizziness could be caused by an obstruction in the carotid artery in the neck, which produces stroke-like symptoms. Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack might indicate obstruction of the coronary arteries. Arteriosclerosis can also cause erectile dysfunction.

Aspirin therapy is sometimes used to address arteriosclerosis issues.
Aspirin therapy is sometimes used to address arteriosclerosis issues.

Risk factors for arteriosclerosis include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and/or cholesterol, stress, and diabetes. A virus or allergic reaction, chronic kidney disease, irritants such as nicotine and drugs, or too much of the amino acid homocystine can also lead to arteriosclerosis. A family history of early heart disease is also a risk factor for developing arteriosclerosis.

Smokers are at a higher risk of arteriosclerosis.
Smokers are at a higher risk of arteriosclerosis.

If you experience any signs of restricted blood flow, you should see your doctor. Those with poor blood flow in one area of the body are likely to have arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis in another part of the body. During a physical exam, your doctor may find signs of either arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis by several methods, including listening to your arteries through a stethoscope.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis.

Decreased blood pressure in a limb or lack of a pulse in a narrowed artery could indicate arteriosclerosis. Other warning signs include a bulge in the abdomen or behind the knee. The physician might also notice poor wound healing in an area with restricted blood flow. Blood tests, imaging, ultrasounds, electrocardiograms (EKGs), and other tests help a physician diagnose arteriosclerosis.

During a physical exam, a doctor may find signs of arteriosclerosis.
During a physical exam, a doctor may find signs of arteriosclerosis.

Treatment varies according to the symptoms and severity of the condition, but can include exercise, medication, or surgery. Some treatments include reducing dietary calcium and increasing magnesium intake. Cholesterol lowering drugs, aspirin therapy, anticoagulants, and vasodilators are used in some cases. Patients should also try to control stress, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise, refrain from smoking, and maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.

At least four different surgical methods are available for treatment of arteriosclerosis. Another form of treatment is thrombolytic therapy, in which a doctor inserts a clot-dissolving drug into the artery to break up the clot.

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Discussion Comments

anon277797

Where does arteriosclerosis appear?

anon138691

What is the relation between Arteriosclerosis and erectile dysfunction? Could you please give us the answer?

anon137718

@anon1541: what is the name of the medication you took to alleviate and correct your problems?

anon122917

arteriosclerosis is a degenerative disease.

anon106744

I had hardening of the arteries, and I had to have a triple bypass because of it. That's the bad part. The good part was that I found a product which has, for the last ten months, caused my cardiovascular system to heal itself and bring itself to a level of health of a 39 year old. My plaque buildup was reduced by over 50 percent, and I took no chemical poison meds. after four weeks after surgery, and haven't changed my diet by much, and my blood pressure is avg. 110/70. Had I have taken the product six months prior to my surgery i would probably not have needed the surgery.

The medical community will tell you to take all kinds of meds. because your arteries are hardening, but not one damn thing about what one can do to heal those arteries. I asked one once why they won't heal the arteries, just treat the symptoms!

celestinho

Can arteriosclerosis and heart diseases be genetically transmitted? If so,what is the mechanism?

robin33111

is Arteriosclerosis a congenital or degenerative disease?

anon40968

can you die from arteriosclerosis? if so, how many people die a year around the world?

anon37381

If there is a family history of this coronary "defect" could someone be mismedicated "on purpose" to expedite the build up of plaque. My father died of this in oct 2007 under what now seem to be suspicious circumstances

anon1541

When was arteriosclerosis discoverded?

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    • A diagram of the aorta. The abdominal aorta is a common site for arteriosclerosis.
      By: bilderzwerg
      A diagram of the aorta. The abdominal aorta is a common site for arteriosclerosis.
    • Arteriosclerosis can be detected through use of a stethoscope.
      By: leelaryonkul
      Arteriosclerosis can be detected through use of a stethoscope.
    • Aspirin therapy is sometimes used to address arteriosclerosis issues.
      By: blueskies9
      Aspirin therapy is sometimes used to address arteriosclerosis issues.
    • Smokers are at a higher risk of arteriosclerosis.
      By: Grafvision
      Smokers are at a higher risk of arteriosclerosis.
    • High blood pressure is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis.
      By: niyazz
      High blood pressure is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis.
    • During a physical exam, a doctor may find signs of arteriosclerosis.
      By: forestpath
      During a physical exam, a doctor may find signs of arteriosclerosis.
    • Arteriosclerosis can affect the carotid arteries that supply blood from the heart to the brain.
      By: Mopic
      Arteriosclerosis can affect the carotid arteries that supply blood from the heart to the brain.