What Is Atherosclerosis? Atherosclerosis can lead to what kind of stroke?
Normal arteries are elastic and flexible. However, the arteries can harden over time. Arteriosclerosis makes it difficult for the blood to carry nutrients and oxygen from the heart throughout the body. It can reduce blood flow to the tissues and organs.
Atherosclerosis is a kind of arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is when blood vessels become stiff and thicker due to fats and cholesterol build up in the artery walls. This build up is referred to as plaque.
Plaque can make arteries narrow and block blood flow. It can also cause a blood clot if the plaque bursts.
What Are the Symptoms of Atherosclerosis?
Mild cases of atherosclerosis may not have obvious symptoms. Symptoms often occur when an artery becomes so clogged and narrow so it cannot move blood throughout the body.
Symptoms of more severe atherosclerosis may include:
- Chest pressure (called angina) and pain (if the atherosclerosis is in the heart arteries).
- Decreased blood flow and pain in some limbs (if the atherosclerosis is in the leg and arm arteries).
- Renal hypertension or high blood pressure within the arteries of the kidneys (if the atherosclerosis is in the arteries that lead to the kidneys).
- Sudden weakness or numbness in the legs or arms, drooping face muscles, temporary vision loss in one eye, and slurred speech or difficulty speaking (if the atherosclerosis is in the arteries that lead to the brain).
What Causes Atherosclerosis?
The disease is slow, and it can rarely happen in children. The exact causes of atherosclerosis are unknown, but it can occur if an artery’s inner layer gets damaged. The damage can be due to: