Arteriosclerosis is a chronic condition that also goes by the name Hardening of the Arteries, which is a literal term that refers to the thickening or hardening of the walls of the arteries that pump blood throughout the body. The symptoms of this condition can be easily overlooked yet the condition is common, which is why it is important to learn what you can about the cause, diagnosis and treatment options associated with arteriosclerosis.
Arteriosclerosis causes a thickening or hardening of the artery walls. In early or mild cases of the disease no symptoms may be noticed. In more advanced cases symptoms will depend on where the affected artery is located. Some general symptoms may include intense pulse, headaches, dizziness, and intermittent claudication.
Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis involving deposits and plaquing on the artery wall. These deposits may consists of cholesterol, fats, and/or calcium and can lead to serious health conditions such as heart attack, angina pectoris, stroke, TIA, or other conditions depending on the area supplied by the affected arteries.
The full cause of this vascular disease is not well understood but many risk factors have been identified such as advanced age, family history, obesity or lack of exercise, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol or triglycerides, stress, and Diabetes Mellitus.
In some cases symptoms may be noticed and should prompt an evaluation by a physician. The evaluation may include a physical examination and specific lab tests such as ECG (electrocardiogram), stress test, blood tests, and possibly x-rays. In other cases symptoms may not be recognized and the first indication of a problem will come from a routine doctor visit or physical examination.
As for treatment, the condition can be controlled by following a low-fat diet (especially low in saturated fat), engaging in a regular exercise program as directed by a physician, quitting smoking, avoiding stress, and controlling diabetes and high blood pressure. A physician may prescribe medication depending on specific needs (i.e. nicotine patch to help a person stop smoking, medication for cholesterol or high blood pressure, etc.).
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