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Atherosclerosis is a specific form of arteriosclerosis
(thickening & hardening of arterial walls) affecting
primarily the intima of large and medium-sized muscular
arteries and is characterized by the presence of fibrofatty
plaques or atheromas.
Most commonly affected arteries by atherosclerosis include
large and medium sized arteries like aorta, coronary,
popliteal and cerebral arteries.
Less common complications include peripheral vascular
disease, aneurysmal dilatation due to weakened arterial
wall, chronic ischemic heart disease, ischaemic
encephalopathy and mesenteric occlusion.
Signs and symptoms
Sometimes the first sign of atherosclerosis can be a
medical emergency such as a heart attack or a stroke.
Signs and symptoms of the disease vary depending
upon which arteries are affected:
Supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
Plaque build-up in the major arteries - ‘Coronary Artery Disease’ or ‘Coronary
Plaque build-up in the smallest arteries of the heart - ‘Coronary Micro vascular
Chest pain or discomfort
Neck, back, shoulder, arm or jaw pain
Feeling of indigestion
Shortness of breath
Supply blood enriched with oxygen to the brain.
Narrowed or blocked carotid arteries - ‘Cerebrovascular Disease’ aka ‘Carotid Artery
Experience symptoms of stroke or a transient ischemic attack.
Paralysis or numbness of the face, arms
or legs on one side of the body
Trouble speaking or understanding
Loss of vision in one eye
Loss of balance or coordination
Sudden and severe headache
Loss of consciousness
Supply oxygen rich blood to the arms and legs.
Common symptoms include:
Pain, cramps, aching, numbness
or weakness in the legs
Hair loss on legs or feet
Sores on feet or legs that never
A change in the colour of the
skin on the legs
Supply oxygen-rich blood to the kidneys.
Plaque build-up - ‘chronic kidney disease’
Early kidney disease often has no signs or symptoms but as the
disease worsens, following symptoms may occur:
Changes in the
Loss of appetite
Swelling in the hands
or feet; itchiness or
Atherosclerosis leads to coronary artery disease -
number one cause of death in the United States and
many other countries for both men and women.
Hardening of the arteries cannot be reversed once it
However, lifestyle changes can prevent or slow down
the process from becoming worse.
Healthy lifestyle; eating healthy, medication to lower
LDL cholesterol, stopping smoking and limiting
alcohol consumption, losing weight, and staying
Current research in Atherosclerosis
Currently atherosclerosis research is targeted at
finding new effective treatments to tackle the growing
number of deaths caused by atherosclerosis around the
The novel approach of developing medicine using
natural sources such as plants is the current trend in
the field of atherosclerosis. This approach will help to
decrease the amount of people affected by
atherosclerosis, as the treatments are focused on
creating low cost treatment in comparison with the
former treatments such as statins.
Current research interprets Atherosclerosis and other
cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by healthy
lifestyle choices such as exercise, a healthy diet and to
quit smoking which can have positive results on
reducing the risks of getting atherosclerosis.