Atherosclerosis or arteriosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD) is a condition in adults and is more common in those who consume quite a lot of lipids and oil in their diet.This condition is also very common in those who possess an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle. Atherosclerosis is referred to the hardening of arteries. The arteries do not harden all of a sudden.
In fact, it is a chronic inflammatory response of the arterial wall which is cause due to cholesterol deposition. Excessive cholesterol deposition is caused due to the presence of large amounts of LDL in the blood. Abnormal cholesterol deposition in the arterial walls can cause the blood macrophages to accumulate in the arteries. These white cells form multiple plaques which hardens the arteries wall.
An inflammatory response occurs in the arterial walls due to the deposition of LDL. This LDL can be oxidized by free radicals which then, become injurious to the arterial wall. Arterial wall injury can trigger a cascade of immune responses. T cells and macrophages reach to the place to gulp up the oxidized LDL material.
But, these cells fail to do so and hence, in this way they form foam cells (cells derived from macrophages and smooth muscle cells). These white cells further grow and rupture and hence, result in the deposition of greater amounts of oxidized cholesterol material. This again triggers an immune response and the cycle goes on.
The symptoms of atherosclerosis develop quite in the later stages. They occur when the clots have blocked the arterial lumen to a large extent that the blood flow to particular organ is greatly impaired. Atherosclerosis can occur in any artery and mostly it is seen in the coronary arteries, renal arteries, peripheral arteries and carotid arteries. Atherosclerosis can also be hereditary.
Besides greater amounts of LDL consumption in diet, it can also occur due to an underlying complication such as diabetes (in which blood cholesterol levels rise up), high blood pressure and smoking.Some of the atherosclerosis symptoms are mentioned as under:
Spasm, stiffness and hardening of the arteries that supply blood to the heart can cause decreased blood flow to the cardiac muscles.
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This can ignite pain in the chest as well as to the referred areas such as lower part of the jaw, upper surface of the shoulder, left arm and in the back. Reduced blood supply to the heart also causes the symptoms of chest discomfort. The type of pain of angina can be a tight, dull or a heavy one.
Patients of atherosclerosis disease, who may develop the pain of angina, may also face troubles while breathing.
This pain occurs if there is an internal bleeding in aorta due to aortic aneurysm. Aorta is a large artery that runs from the heart down in the abdomen to supply oxygenated blood to other organs. In case of aortic rupture, a sudden and severe pain develops in the mid of abdomen which can spread up to scrotum in the case of men.
A ruptured brain aneurysm (cerebral aneurysm) can ignite severe pain in head. This can also be counted as one of the atherosclerosis symptoms.
Aneurysm refers to lesions or bulging in the arterial wall. If this aneurysm grows large, it then can rupture the arterial wall and cause internal bleeding. Internal bleeding can occur in brain due to brain aneurysm or it may occur in the aorta due to aortic aneurysm.
A heart attack can occur if atherosclerosis has affected the coronary arteries, that is, the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Due to reduced blood flow, a particular heart muscle faces lack of oxygen due to which, that cardiac muscle dies off and produces heart attack.
Chest pain, chest tightness, chest squeezing and pressure on chest; referred pain such as in the left arm and in the back; lightheadedness, feeling of sickness, vomiting, cough and wheezing are some of the symptoms of heart attack. If somebody develops these symptoms, then the person must be rushed to the hospital.
Blood clots that block the carotid arteries (arteries to the brain) can lead to stroke. Stroke occurs if the blood and oxygen are not properly supplied to the brain tissues.. The symptoms of stroke include, fall of the face to a side with inability to bring facial movements, weakened arms and difficulty with speech. Stroke is also a case of medical emergency.
Chronic kidney disease can be an atherosclerosis symptom as well as it can occur due to the obstruction of renal arteries by clot formation. Chronic kidney disease may go asymptomatic for some time. As the disease progresses, the patient can experience symptoms of affected renal function such as tiredness, feeling of sickness, reduced appetite, etc.
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