Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis

A common cause of heart attacks and strokes, arteriosclerosis causes a fatty substance to accumulate inside your arteries. Called plaque, the fatty substance hardens and narrows the arteries, which limits the amount of oxygenated blood that can get to your heart and the rest of your body. When blood is restricted, it can lead to chest pain, a heart attack and pain or numbness in the legs, arms and pelvis, a condition called peripheral arterial disease. The plaque can also rupture and lead to bleeding in the brain, which is medically known as a stroke. Doctors believe that the cells that line our arteries become damaged by high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol, which allows plaque to build up in the blood vessel. A family history of heart disease also increases your risk to develop this disease.

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    Medial calcific sclerosis can be diagnosed using an x-ray. The deposits of calcium inside the walls of the arteries show up on the film and can be spotted by the physician. Computed tomography (CT), a method of creating a three dimensional x-ray, can also be used in the diagnosis.

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    Angiography: During angiography, a liquid dye that can be seen on an x-ray is injected through a long, thin tube (catheter) that is fed through an artery, usually in the femoral artery in the thigh, to the arteries in the heart. As the dye travels through the arteries, they become visible on the x-ray, showing whether plaque is blocking any arteries and the severity of that blockage.

    Blood tests: Blood is drawn to check for abnormal levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in the blood that may indicate an increased risk of atherosclerosis. Fasting may be needed before the blood is drawn.

    Computed Tomography (CT) scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan creates computer-generated pictures of the heart, brain, or other areas of the body to detect hardening, thickening, and narrowing of large arteries.

    Doppler ultrasound: A Doppler ultrasound device measures blood pressure at various points along an arm or leg. It may be used to detect atherosclerotic lesions and measure blood flow and is particularly helpful in detecting pulmonary embolisms (blockages or blood clots in the artery leading to the lungs) or deep vein thromboses (blood clots or blockages in the legs).

    Echocardiography: Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. It is used to detect injured heart muscle, an abnormal size and shape of the heart, and to look for defective heart chambers and valves.

    Electrocardiogram (EKG): An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a painless procedure that uses electrical signals to test how fast the heart is beating and if the rhythm is normal. An EKG may also provide information about previous or current damage to heart tissue.

    Stress testing: During a stress test, the heart is forced to work harder and beat faster by having a patient either exercise or take certain medications. Signs of arteriosclerosis that may occur during a stress test include abnormal changes in heart rate or blood pressure, shortness of breath, chest pain, and abnormal heart rhythms. The heart may be imaged during the procedure to reveal any areas of restricted blood flow.

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    Arteriosclerosis obliterans is diagnosed with a physical exam and testing. Your doctor might be able to see some of the symptoms of arteriosclerosis obliterans during your physical exam. You may have ischemic ulcers (unhealed sores) and other evidence of poor circulation in the legs.

    If your doctor suspects arteriosclerosis obliterans, he may perform an ankle-brachial index, or ABI. This test compares the blood pressure in your arms to the blood pressure in your legs, to test for narrow or blocked arteries in the legs.

    An ultrasound can determine the extent of the damage to your arteries, and your doctor may check for high blood cholesterol or diabetes.

    An angiography is a test in which injected dye makes the flow of your blood visible on X-rays images. This can help your doctor see your blood flow. Other types of angiography include magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), computerized tomography angiography (CTA), and catheter angiography, in which the dye is injected directly into the damaged artery via catheter.
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    Medial calcific sclerosis usually does not affect children. The condition is most common in people over the age of 50. However, it may occur in people with chronic renal failure, which could possibly include children.

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    Arteriosclerosis obliterans does not typically affect children. Age is a risk factor for this disease; it usually affects those over 50. Arteriosclerosis obliterans can begin before age 40, but symptoms do not usually become noticeable until the disease is quite advanced.

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    Due to the increasingly large number of children who are becoming overweight, arteriolosclerosis is now a concern for younger people. It is important for adults to teach the children in their lives how to make healthy lifestyle choices. Because some of the main risk factors that affect who develops arteriolosclerosis depends on what they eat, how much they exercise, whether or not they smoke, and high blood pressure, children who learn how to manage their diets and get lots of regular sleep and exercise may be spared a diagnosis. Being a good example to a child can give them the tools they need to prevent arteriolosclerosis.

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    Arteriolosclerosis does not generally affect children. It is a disease that develops over time and as people age. By the time people reach their middle age, they can become affected by risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, high blood cholesterol levels, smoking, and an unhealthy diet. Most signs of arteriolosclerosis appear in people who are in their 40s or 50s. The risk of developing complications from arteriolosclerosis goes up after men are 45 years old, and women are 55 years old. Recent studies have found that due to the increasing incidence of obesity in children, they are now at risk for developing the disease.

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    Cerebrovascular disease: Atherosclerotic plaques may occur in the arteries of the brain. Eventually, the plaque may rupture, which leads to the formation of a blood clot. The clot may block the vessel, cutting off blood and oxygen supply in the brain. This may cause either a transient ischemic attack (temporary without causing permanent damage) or a stroke (which results in tissue death). Strokes may also occur when a plaque ruptures elsewhere in the body, resulting in the formation of a blood clot. A piece of the blood clot may break off (called an embolus) and travel to the brain, occluding an artery and leading to a lack of oxygen and tissue death. Strokes may cause permanent brain damage or even death. Symptoms may include sudden numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, or drooping muscles in the face. A sudden severe headache or blurred vision may also occur.

    Coronary artery disease: When atherosclerotic plaques occur in the arteries of the heart, a person may develop coronary artery disease. This may cause angina, which is chest pain that usually intensifies during physical activity but may also occur at rest. If an atherosclerotic plaque suddenly ruptures, a clot forms, and the heart tissue may not receive enough oxygen and begins to die, often causing a heart attack. According to the National Institutes of Health, coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.

    Peripheral artery disease (PAD): Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is the progressive hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to atherosclerotic plaque formation in the arteries of the lower extremities. A common symptom of PAD is intermittent claudication, which is described as pain, fatigue, discomfort, or numbness in the lower extremities (particularly in the thigh or calf muscles) during exercise that resolves with rest. In more advanced PAD, this lower extremity pain may also occur at rest. The lack of blood flow to the extremities results in poor wound healing, which may sometimes lead to amputations.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.



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    If you have chronic renal failure, diabetes or osteoporosis, you are more likely to develop medial calcific sclerosis. Additionally, this condition can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Osteoporosis occurs in conjunction with this problem in some people.

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    Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the major arteries of the heart and body, often causes arteriosclerosis obliterans. Diabetes and obesity can worsen arteriosclerosis obliterans. Foot infections, including fungal infections, and conditions like corns, bunions, and calluses, can lead to the development of ischemic ulcers, or unhealed sores, related to arteriosclerosis obliterans.