Presse Santé

Atherosclerosis: symptoms and prevention of clogged arteries

Atherosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff. They restrict blood flow to your organs and tissues. Healthy arteries are flexible and springy, but over time the walls of your arteries can harden, a condition commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries.

Atherosclerosis is a specific type of atherosclerosis, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on your artery walls (plaque) that can restrict blood flow. The plaque can rupture and create a blood clot. Although atherosclerosis is often thought of as a heart problem, it can affect arteries anywhere in the body. Atherosclerosis can be preventable and treatable.

Atherosclerosis Symptoms

Atherosclerosis develops insidiously and usually has no symptoms. You usually won’t have any symptoms of atherosclerosis until an artery is so narrow or blocked that it can’t supply enough blood to your organs and tissues. Sometimes a blood clot completely blocks or even breaks up blood flow and can trigger a heart attack or stroke.

The symptoms of moderate to severe atherosclerosis depend on the arteries that are affected. For example :

– If you have arteriosclerosis in the arteries of the heart, you may experience symptoms such as pain or pressure in the chest (angina pectoris).

– If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries that lead to your brain, you may have signs and symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, difficulty speaking or slurring speech, temporary loss of vision in one eye, or wasting of muscles in the face. These signal a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which if left untreated can lead to a stroke.

– If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries of the arms and legs, you may have symptoms of peripheral arterial disease such as: B. Leg pain when walking (claudication).

– If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries that lead to your kidneys, you will develop high blood pressure or kidney failure.

When to see a doctor

If you think you have atherosclerosis, talk to your doctor. Also watch out for early symptoms of insufficient blood flow, such as chest pain (angina), leg pain, or numbness.

Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent atherosclerosis from getting worse and prevent a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergency.

development of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a slowly progressive disease that can begin as early as childhood. Although the exact cause is unknown, atherosclerosis can begin with damage to the inner lining of an artery. Damage can be caused by:

  • – High blood pressure
  • – High cholesterol
  • – High triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood
  • – Smoking and other sources of tobacco
  • – Insulin resistance, obesity or diabetes
  • – Inflammation caused by diseases such as arthritis, lupus, infections or inflammation of unknown origin

Once the inner lining of an artery is damaged, blood cells and other substances often clump together at the site of injury and accumulate in the inner lining of the artery.

Over time, fatty deposits (plaque) from cholesterol and other cellular products also build up at the site of injury, hardening and narrowing your arteries. The organs and tissues connected to the blocked arteries then do not receive enough blood to function properly.

Eventually, portions of the fatty deposits can break off and enter your bloodstream.

Also, the smooth lining of plaque can tear, spilling cholesterol and other substances into your bloodstream. This can cause a blood clot that can block blood flow to a certain part of your body, such as your chest. B. when blocked blood flow to your heart causes a heart attack. A blood clot can also travel to other parts of your body and block flow to another organ.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis

Over time, the arteries harden. In addition to aging, factors that increase the risk of atherosclerosis include:

  • – High blood pressure
  • – High cholesterol
  • – Diabetes
  • – obesity
  • – Smoking and other uses of tobacco
  • – Family history of early heart disease
  • – lack of exercise
  • – Unhealthy diet


Complications of atherosclerosis depend on clogged arteries. For example :

– Coronary disease. When atherosclerosis narrows the arteries near your heart, you can develop coronary artery disease, which can cause chest pain (angina), heart attack, or heart failure.

– Disease of the carotid artery. When atherosclerosis narrows the arteries near your brain, you can develop carotid artery disease, which can cause a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.

– Disease of the peripheral arteries. When atherosclerosis narrows the arteries in your arms or legs, you can develop problems with blood flow in your arms and legs, known as peripheral artery disease. This can make you less sensitive to heat and cold and increase the risk of burns or frostbite. In rare cases, poor blood flow in the arms or legs can cause tissue death (gangrene).

– aneurysms. Atherosclerosis can also cause aneurysms, a serious complication that can occur anywhere in your body. An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of your artery. Most people with aneurysms have no symptoms. Pain and throbbing around an aneurysm can occur and is a medical emergency. If an aneurysm ruptures, life-threatening internal bleeding can occur. Although it is usually a sudden and catastrophic event, a slow leak is possible. When a blood clot breaks loose in an aneurysm, it can block an artery in a distant location.

– Chronic kidney disease. Atherosclerosis can cause the arteries leading to your kidneys to narrow, preventing oxygen-rich blood from reaching them. Over time, this can affect your kidney function and prevent waste from leaving your body.


The same healthy lifestyle changes recommended to treat atherosclerosis also help prevent it. These include:

  • – Stop smoking
  • – Eat healthy food
  • – Do sports regularly
  • – Maintain a healthy weight

Remember to make changes one step at a time and think about what lifestyle changes are best for you to manage in the long run.

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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