What is arteriosclerosis? What are the symptoms, risks and treatment methods?

One of the most common cardiovascular diseases is arteriosclerosis, also known as atherosclerosis. Arterial stiffness, which has an increase in its incidence, especially in individuals over the age of 40-45, may cause irreversible results if not treated.


What is arteriosclerosis?

In healthy individuals, veins have a flexible structure and, thanks to this structure, tend to expand or contract from time to time. In this way, many factors such as the flow rate of blood can be kept under control. In individuals with atherosclerosis, hardening and loss of flexibility occur due to the accumulation of cholesterol in the vessel walls and the increase in connective tissue formation. Atheroma plaques formed from these hardened parts of the vessels towards the inner parts, cause the vessel to be blocked and blocking blood flow over time, and prepare the ground for serious problems that can result in death. Especially in many of the diseases that cause death, such as cerebral hemorrhage and heart attack, the main reason is atherosclerosis.



What are the symptoms of arteriosclerosis?

The disease generally does not have a specific symptom and manifests itself with other important health problems it causes. The symptoms seen vary according to the area where the atherosclerosis occurs. In case of hardening of the heart vessels, some problems occur in the contraction and relaxation of the heart muscle and this situation causes many serious problems such as rhythm disturbance in the heart. In such cases, chest pain and bruising in various parts of the body may occur. The risk of heart attack is also very high in cases of cardiovascular occlusion. The formation of hardening in the veins in the feet or legs can manifest itself in the form of cramps and spasms. Hardening of the brain vessels, visual and speech disorders, loss of consciousness and similar situations occur. Various problems related to impaired renal functions can be seen, such as atherosclerosis in the kidneys, kidney failure and hypertension.


Causes of arteriosclerosis

Although genetic and environmental factors play a role in the development of the disease, individuals with a family history of atherosclerosis have a much higher risk of developing the disease. The disease is more common in elderly individuals, as the repair of structural defects in the vessels slows down. Apart from these, risk-increasing factors in the formation of arteriosclerosis disease can be listed as follows:

  • Male gender
  • Decreasing the protective effect of estrogen hormone in women in the post-menopausal period
  • High total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, low HDL
  • cholesterol levels known as good cholesterol (dyslipidemia)
  • Cigarette consumption
  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes and obesity
  • Insufficient physical activity
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Stressful life



How is atherosclerosis diagnosed?

Various intermediary methods are used for the diagnosis of the disease if any disease that may cause suspicion of arteriosclerosis is observed or this disease is common in the family. Some of these are those:

  • Angiography
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Effort test
  • Scintigraphy
  • Computed tomography



What are the treatment methods for arteriosclerosis?

After the diagnosis of atherosclerosis is made using various imaging techniques, the first stage is to check whether there is any vascular occlusion in any area. Which method will be preferred in the treatment process varies according to the size of the disease. While drug therapy can be applied in non-advanced cases, the disease is treated with bypass surgery and minimally invasive surgical methods in more severe cases. The minimally invasive surgical method, which has been developed in recent years, is frequently preferred in the treatment of the disease because of its ability to be performed with small incisions and less tiring for the heart. This treatment is very effective in feet that are at risk of cutting due to gangrene formation and is performed under local anesthesia with the help of a special drug given through a small incision into the occluded vessels.

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