Arteriosclerosis or "hardening of the arteries," is a condition that results in a thickening of the walls of the arteries in the body. This thickening literally causes the walls of the arteries to become more solid and less elastic. As artery elasticity decreases, the circulation of blood through the arteries also decreases. There are subcategories of arteriosclerosis including atherosclerosis, or arteriolosclerosis. Atherosclerosis results from an accumulation of plaque on the inside of your arteries. Arteriolosclerosis frequently occurs in people who have diabetes or hypertension.
2. Artery Plaque can Block YOUR Blood Flow
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Arteriosclerosis doesn't just pop up over night; instead, it builds gradually over time. Even though a person may have arteriosclerosis, they frequently don't know about it until the first symptoms appear.
This happens when an artery becomes so thick that it blocks the blood flow, causing pain to the area. This blockage can occur anywhere in the body, with the resulting condition depending on the location of the blockage.
When an artery in the brain gets blocks it may lead to a stroke or transient ischemic attack. Blockages in the heart may cause a heart attack or angina. A block of the arteries in the limbs may result in peripheral arterial disease.
Finally, arteriosclerosis may cause the artery to bulge, leading to an aneurysm.
3. The State of Your Arteries
Doctors use a variety of diagnostic tests to determine how well your arteries are functioning. A simple blood test is usually the first step, as this reveals elevations in cholesterol or blood sugar, both of which are risk factors for arteriosclerosis. More complex tests include Doppler ultrasound, ankle-brachial index (ABI), electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), angiogram, CT scan or MRI.
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Non-invasive treatments for arteriosclerosis include a variety of medications. When cholesterol is the root of the problem, the doctor may prescribe cholesterol lowering medication. Likewise, blood pressure lowering medication may be in order if you've got high blood pressure. Some doctors prescribe medications that reduce the likelihood of blood clots, such as anti-platelet medications and anticoagulants. Surgical techniques including angioplasty, endarterectomy, bypass surgery and thrombolytic therapy treat severe symptoms.
5. The Path to Healthy Arteries
Prevent your arteries from hardening by making changes in your lifestyle.
First, start a regular exercise routine to help reduce weight and encourage more effective blood flow. Shake up your diet by eating fruits, vegetables and high fiber foods that are low in fat and cholesterol. Shed stress from your life and participate in relaxing activities, such as meditation, yoga or enjoyable hobbies. Get rid of your cigarettes and other tobacco products. Finally, work with your doctor to get contributing conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure under control.
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