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The Atherosclerosis is a disorder that affects the blood vessels. It occurs when a large amount of plaque builds up on the inside walls of the arteries. As a result, it is more difficult for blood to circulate normally. The risk of obstruction is very high.

It is a serious but silent disease. The reason is that patients do not have any symptoms until the accumulated plaque is noticeably blocking blood flow. Atherosclerosis can affect any of the arteries in the body: heart, brain, arms, legs, pelvis, and kidneys.

The latest studies indicate that in Spain 50% of the deaths that occur annually are related to this disease. Although there is a tendency to believe that arteriosclerosis affects only older people, the truth is that in recent years the number of patients between 40 and 50 years of age has increased.

What is arteriosclerosis?

Arteriosclerosis is a disease in which plaque builds up inside substances. Plaque is a substance that is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other components present in the blood.

Over time, the plaque hardens, narrowing the arteries and limiting blood flow. In the most serious cases, the plaque completely blocks the arteries, thus blocking the flow of blood to vital organs such as the brain or the heart.

This is usually a condition that does not have any symptoms until the affected artery becomes too narrow. Thus, a high percentage of patients with arteriosclerosis are unaware that they suffer from this disease until the moment they suffer a cardiovascular or cerebrovascular accident.

Development process of arteriosclerosis

The development of the disease begins with the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. Over time, this plaque increases in size and hardens, so that the arteries narrow.

As a consequence, those organs and tissues connected to the affected arteries do not receive the blood they need to function properly.

In some cases, the plaque accumulated in the arteries breaks away from the walls and enters the bloodstream. A serious situation since there is a high risk of a blood clot that completely blocks blood flow to a certain area of ​​the body.

Causes of arteriosclerosis


When arteriosclerosis occurs before the age of 50, in the vast majority of cases there is a family history of the disease.

Arterial hypertension

High blood pressure levels are one of the main causes of plaque build-up in the arteries. It is estimated that 33% of adults suffer from hypertension.

High cholesterol levels

On high cholesterol levels, it is important to make a difference. When LDL (bad) cholesterol levels are high, plaque builds up in the arteries. Meanwhile, high levels of HDL (good) cholesterol have a protective effect on this disease.


Smoking is one of the most important risk factors for arteriosclerosis. Recent research has shown that it is the main responsible for 18% of deaths from cardiovascular diseases in men, and 30% in women. The reason is that it favors an increase in both heart rate and blood pressure.

Mellitus diabetes

Those patients with diabetes , especially type II , have a higher risk of suffering from this disorder. The reason is that people with diabetes tend to have high levels of LDL cholesterol, which leads to plaque buildup in the arteries.

Symptoms of arteriosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a disease whose development occurs gradually. As we have pointed out, in the initial stages it does not produce any type of symptoms.

The first signs are when plaque buildup causes an artery to narrow, so that blood flow to organs and tissues is interrupted, either partially or completely.

The symptoms of the disease depend largely on which arteries are affected. Most commonly, the interruption of blood flow occurs in the arteries of the heart . In this case, the signs are pain and pressure in the chest, as well as general malaise.

When arteriosclerosis occurs in the arteries of the brain , the signs can be very diverse: tingling in the extremities, stammering, temporary loss of vision, facial paralysis, etc. They are signs of a serious nature that indicate a cerebrovascular accident.

If arteriosclerosis occurs in the arteries in the extremities , the most noticeable sign is pain.

In the presence of any symptoms that indicate arteriosclerosis, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent stroke, heart attack, or any other medical emergency.

How is it diagnosed?

At the slightest symptom that indicates a partial or total blockage of an artery, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. In the first place, he takes the clinical history of the patient, taking into account his age, state of health and evidence presented.

He then proceeds with a physical exam evaluating his pulse, blood pressure, and the presence of murmurs in the arteries. If you suspect arteriosclerosis, request a series of medical tests to establish the diagnosis.

Medical tests

The first and most common is a blood test to check cholesterol levels, as well as blood sugar.

Also, if the blockage is in the arteries leading to the heart, the doctor orders an EKG . A diagnostic test that records electrical signals as they travel through the heart muscle.

The catheterization Cardiac may also be helpful in diagnosing this disease. It allows you to check if the coronary arteries are narrowed or blocked.


Treatment of the disease largely depends on what is causing the plaque build-up in the arteries , as well as which arteries are affected.

If the patient has elevated levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood , they should take medications to lower them such as statins. In addition to reducing cholesterol levels, they strengthen the inner walls of the arteries that lead to the heart.

The beta – blockers decrease heart rate and blood pressure, thereby reducing the effort required by the heart to function properly. These drugs greatly lower the risk of having a heart attack.

The diuretic medications are also indicated in some cases to treat arteriosclerosis and lowering blood pressure.

Surgical procedures

In some cases it is necessary to resort to surgery to treat arteriosclerosis.

  • Percutaneous transluminal angioplasty: the procedure that consists of the introduction of a catheter with a small balloon at one end through an artery is known as such. It should go to the point where there has been narrowing from plaque buildup. Once this point is reached, the balloon is inflated to dilate the artery and promote blood flow.
  • Endarterectomy: an intervention in which the artery is opened and the plaque that is inside it is removed.
  • Bypass: Bypass is an operation designed to divert blood from one healthy area to another, trying to avoid that obstructed area of ​​the artery.

Possible complications of arteriosclerosis


Stroke occurs when there is a total blockage of the arteries that lead to the brain, so that this organ does not receive the blood it needs. A cerebrovascular disease in which nerve cells in the brain, because they do not receive oxygen, die after a few minutes.

It is a disorder that occurs suddenly, giving rise to very diverse symptoms: facial paralysis, slurred speech, confusion, dizziness, vision problems, and severe headache.

Aortic aneurysm

An aortic aneurysm is a weakened area located in the upper area of ​​the aorta , the most important blood vessel in the human body. In general, these types of aneurysms grow slowly and progressively without causing any symptoms.

As they increase in size, various signs may appear, such as chest pain, cough, and shortness of breath.

Angina pectoris and myocardial infarction

It occurs when plaque accumulates in the coronary arteries, through which blood flows to the heart. The plaque narrows the arteries, so that the flow of blood to the heart muscle is interrupted. In addition, the risk of thrombi forming is very high, which can partially or totally block blood circulation.

When blood flow is reduced, what is known as angina pectoris occurs. When the duration exceeds 20 minutes, a myocardial infarction occurs .

Chronic kidney disease

Although not the most common, plaque can also deposit in the arteries responsible for supplying blood to the kidneys. Thus, if these arteries are blocked and adequate and timely treatment is not received, chronic kidney disease can occur . A disorder in which the kidneys gradually lose their functions.

How to prevent arteriosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a relatively easy disease to prevent. The key is to lead a healthy lifestyle .

First of all, it is essential to eat a balanced diet . Bet on the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, etc. That is, low-calorie foods with great nutritional value.

Second, to take care of your health it is important to exercise regularly. It is enough to walk every day for half an hour, as well as to carry out other simple activities: swimming, running, etc.

In addition, it is recommended to combat obesity . Excess body weight in many cases is accompanied by hypertension, high levels of cholesterol and uric acid, etc.

And finally, you have to remove the stress from everyday life. Sometimes, for both work and personal reasons, stress seems inevitable. Well, in these cases you have to try to take problems calmly and solve them in the best possible way.


Arteries are blood vessels that are responsible for supplying oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. When the interior walls of these arteries fill with substances, such as fat and cholesterol , a plaque progressively forms that obstructs them. This is when arteriosclerosis appears and the arterial walls lose their elasticity.

It is a serious disease , which must be diagnosed in time to establish the most appropriate treatment. The main goal is to avoid medical emergencies, such as strokes and cardiovascular disease.

Finally, it should be noted that arteriosclerosis is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide . However, it is a treatable and even preventable disease.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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