Overview of arteriosclerosis
Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis are words often used to describe the same condition, but they are two different.
Arteriosclerosis is a condition that occurs when the blood vessels (also known as arteries) that carry nutrients and oxygen from the heart to the rest of the body become thick and stiff. This can restrict blood flow to the organs and tissues.
Atherosclerosis is a specific kind of arteriosclerosis. The NHS defines atherosclerosis as “a potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques, or atheroma.” These plaques can also burst, which will lead to a blood clot.
Atherosclerosis is often considered a heart problem, but it can affect arteries anywhere within the body.
What are the symptoms of arteriosclerosis?
If the case of arteriosclerosis is mild, you may not feel any symptoms.
Symptoms of arteriosclerosis usually don’t appear until an artery is so clogged that it fails to supply enough blood to vital organs and tissue. Sometimes flow can be stopped entirely by a blood clot, which can break apart and trigger either a heart attack or a stroke.
Moderate or severe symptoms of arteriosclerosis will vary depending on which arteries are affected:
- Arteriosclerosis in the arteries leading to the brain can lead to difficulty speaking or slurred speech, drooping facial muscles, sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, and temporary loss of vision. These are all signals that you may be about to suffer a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which can lead to a stroke if untreated.
- Arteriosclerosis in your arm or leg arteries can lead to leg pain when walking (claudication) or decreased blood pressure in the affected limb.
- Arteriosclerosis in the arteries that lead to your kidney can cause you to develop high blood pressure or kidney failure.
- Arteriosclerosis in your heart arteries can lead to angina (chest pain or pressure in the chest)
What is arteriosclerosis caused by?
The exact cause of arteriosclerosis is as yet unknown. However, it is felt that it tends to develop after damage or injury to the inner layer of an artery due to:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High levels of lipids (fat) in the blood
- Inflammation caused by diseases such as arthritis or lupus
- Insulin resistance
Once the inner wall of an artery is damaged, it makes it easier for blood cells and other substances to gather there and start to build up.
What are the risk factors for arteriosclerosis?
Hardening of the arteries is something that happens over time. One of the main risk factors for arteriosclerosis is high cholesterol, which can build up over time and remain undetected for years.
Some of the main risk factors associated with high cholesterol, which can lead to arteriosclerosis, are:
- being overweight
- entering middle age
- little exercise
- raised blood pressure
If you can identify with two or more of the criteria above, you should consider taking the Test2Go Cholesterol Level test. This test can identify high cholesterol levels in your blood within minutes through a finger-prick blood sample.
The advantage of this self-test for cholesterol levels is that it can be carried out in privacy in your home, ensuring confidentiality whilst also highlighting the need to take further steps in managing your health.
Our test is for advisory purposes only. It is not a medical diagnosis.
NB. It is important to note that our tests are not a substitute for seeing a doctor, particularly if you have symptoms. It would help if you did not make a diagnosis or start any treatment without a consultation with a doctor or a suitably trained health professional.
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