Health

Blocked arteries: 7 signs of atherosclerosis

What is atherosclerosis?

Risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidemia, as well as an unhealthy lifestyle such as smoking, increased alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, obesity and malnutrition increase the risk vascular changes. These occur when the vessels are damaged, for example by high blood sugar levels, pollutants or stress, so that cracks form. Due to the leaking vessel walls, fats, cholesterol and calcium penetrate and form deposits. Meanwhile, the body tries to repair the tears with scar tissue. This creates the so-called plaques. As a result, the vessel walls become thicker and harder due to these changes. Blood flows less well through the arteries and circulatory disturbances occur. As the disease progresses, the plaques can break off. Blood clots (thrombi) form, which can also clog or even occlude vessels. These blood clots can cause vascular occlusions (embolisms) in organs through the bloodstream.

7 signs of clogged arteries

In principle, atherosclerosis can affect all arteries. Atherosclerosis develops slowly and usually insidiously. The signs are therefore usually expressed only in old age. Symptoms depend on which vessels in the body are affected.

  • One decreased blood flow to the heart muscle manifested by a feeling of tightness in the chest or left chest pain.
  • One circulatory disturbance in the brain manifests itself through various symptoms. This includes dizziness. Paralysis, numbness, nausea, difficulty speaking or hearing loss.
  • One carotid artery obstruction it becomes evident through functional disorders of the nervous system such as paralysis or speech disorders. A stroke is imminent.
  • One narrowed artery in the intestine it is manifested by severe cramping abdominal pain, blood in the stool, nausea and vomiting and flatulence. The result: a life-threatening intestinal infection
  • Arteriosclerosis in the kidney vessels it is manifested by impaired renal function and hypertension. In the worst case, it can lead to kidney failure.
  • At the Narrowing of the arteries in the arms and legs pain occurs – first under stress, then also at rest. Wounds also heal less well. In severe cases, the tissues can die and the limbs can die. People with a blocked artery in their feet often have pale, cold feet and blue toes.
  • And the pelvic region from a circulatory disturbance affected, hardening of the arteries in men is caused by erectile dysfunction. The legs can also be affected and injured when exercised.

Early diagnosis: how do i know if i have circulatory disorders?

An ultrasound examination (ultrasound) of the venous vessels may be advisable to detect vascular constrictions at an early stage. Ultrasound can be used to examine the flow rate and direction of blood flow in the blood vessels. Doctors recommend that people over the age of 60 have their veins and arteries examined with ultrasound as a preventative measure.

Anyone with diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, or dyslipidemia should have blood tests and blood pressure measurements regularly.

treat atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis can be treated with drugs or with an operation, depending on the extent of the narrowing of the vessels. So far there is no drug that dissolves vascular deposits. However, in the case of atherosclerosis, drugs are used to “thin the blood” (eg acetylsalicylic acid). The aim is to prevent blood clots from forming. Since arteriosclerosis is caused by deposits, so-called cholesterol synthesis inhibitors are able to inhibit the body’s formation of cholesterol in the liver.

In severe cases, when complications such as a heart attack or stroke are imminent, an operation is usually inevitable. With the help of a catheter, the doctor can widen the vasoconstriction and thus normalize the blood flow. A bypass operation can help if you have advanced arteriosclerosis or if a longer section of the artery is affected. The constrictions in the vessels of the heart are filled.

prevent arteriosclerosis

A healthy lifestyle helps prevent circulatory disorders in the best possible way. This includes a plant-based diet with little animal fat. Try to avoid foods with sugar and unhealthy trans fats, which raise cholesterol levels. The “bad” LDL cholesterol is deposited as deposits in the blood vessels, so there is a risk of arteriosclerosis. Doctors also recommend getting regular exercise. Endurance sports such as jogging, swimming or cycling ensure the elasticity of the arteries and promote blood circulation. Those who do without cigarettes, drink little alcohol and have a normal weight protect their arteries best.

Sources: bundesgesundheitsminister.de, kbv.de, internisten-im-netz.de

Video: Calf pain can indicate arteriosclerosis

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