Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis is caused by the interplay of many risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.

Overview

Arteriosclerosis is caused by the interplay of many risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. Arteriosclerosis is caused when the walls of the arteries become hard due to the build-up of fatty deposits. Common consequences include coronary heart disease or a stroke, for example. A healthy lifestyle can prevent or slow down the progression of the disease.

Symptoms

  • Usually no symptoms for many years or decades
  • Gradual progression
    • Symptoms depend on the affected blood vessel
    • Stress-induced pain
    • Increasing functional impairment
  • Acute (emergency)
    • Pain while resting (in particular chest pain)
    • Functional impairment (e.g. paralysis due to a stroke)
Possible consequences of arteriosclerosis (list is not exhaustive)

Causes and treatment

Cause

  • Hardening (calcification) of artery walls due to the build-up of fatty deposits
  • Tendency for vessels to be blocked by blood clots (thrombosis)
  • Process starts during middle age
Risk factors (for cardiovascular diseases)
  • Several risk factors combined lead to a corresponding increase in risk
  • Can't be influenced
    • First-degree relatives suffer from cardiovascular diseases
    • Advancing age
    • Gender: men more often than women
  • Can be influenced

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination (taking of pulse, listening to the blood vessels, etc.)
  • Blood test (in particular blood fats)
  • Ultrasound of the blood vessels
  • ECG (electrocardiogram)stress test
Possible therapies
  • Medication
    • To reduce the clotting ability of the blood
    • To reduce blood fats, blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Procedures
    • Balloon dilation of arteries, stent
    • Operation (bypass, vascular prosthesis)

What can I do myself?

A healthy, risk-adjusted lifestyle can prevent or slow down the progression of the disease. This includes reducing the cardiovascular risk factors:

  • Stop smoking (most effective individual measure)
  • Low-fat, vitamin-rich and high-fibre diet
  • Sufficient exercise (in consultation with a doctor)
  • Normal weight (maintain or aim for)
  • Regular relaxation, strategies for managing stress
  • Take medication (e.g. for diabetes and high blood pressure) conscientiously

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Schweizerische Herzstiftung (Swiss Heart Foundation)
www.swissheart.ch

Synonyms

arteriosclerosis, arterial calcification, atherosclerosis

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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