Arteriosclerosis: Warning Signs and Treatment

Arteriosclerosis: Warning Signs and Treatment

What Is Arteriosclerosis?

Arteriosclerosis is the general name for a group of conditions that cause arteries to become thick and stiff. Healthy arteries are stretchy and flexible, and they carry oxygen and nutrients via blood to and from your heart and lungs. When they stiffen, blood flow gets interrupted, causing circulation problems. This stiffening is called the hardening of the arteries. 

There are different kinds of arteriosclerosis, including:

  • Nonatheromatous arteriosclerosis. The main arteries harden due to age-related scarring, which is also called fibrosis. It’s called nonatheromatous because it isn’t related to atheroma — or fat build-up. 
  • Mönkeberg’s arteriosclerosis. The artery walls become hard from calcium deposits. This condition is usually related to increasing age, but it doesn’t cause blood clots, artery narrowing, or circulation problems.
  • Hyaline arteriolosclerosis. The condition affects small arteries and arterioles (smaller branches of arteries) in people with diabetes. The artery walls thicken, narrow and weaken, leading to blocked blood flow. 
  • Hyperplastic arteriolosclerosis. The condition can leave protein deposits along your artery wall and cause your arteries to thicken and narrow. People with high blood pressure have a higher chance of getting this condition.
  • Atherosclerosis. Often confused with arteriosclerosis, this condition is caused by a fatty, waxy build-up — called plaque — in your arteries, leading to clogged arteries and reduced blood flow. 

High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are factors that increase the chances of getting arteriosclerosis. 

What Are the Warning Signs of Arteriosclerosis?

Lots of people don’t know they have arteriosclerosis until they have a heart attack or aneurysm. An aneurysm happens when the artery walls weaken, widen, and bulge. 

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Some signs and symptoms of arteriosclerosis might include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Pain in your arm or shoulder
  • Feeling sick
  • Coughing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Severe headaches
  • Trouble speaking
  • Vision problems
  • Leg pain

What Is the Treatment for Arteriosclerosis?

Depending on the kind and severity of your condition, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a healthier diet low in sugar, fat, and sodium
  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Stopping smoking
  • Drinking less alcohol

They may also recommend medications that include:

  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors — or ACE inhibitors
  • Beta-blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • Vasodilators


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