Arteries transport oxygen-. Nutrient-rich blood from the heart to the other organs. If these blood vessels calcify (arteriosclerosis), this can restrict the blood flow and thus also the oxygen supply to certain regions of the body. Genetic factors play an important role in the development of this process. People with a hereditary predisposition to high LDL cholesterol levels can sometimes develop vascular changes at a younger age. 1
Another cause of arteriosclerosis can be an unhealthy lifestyle. Classic risk factors are a diet high in fat and sugar, lack of exercise and smoking. 2 Read all about symptoms, treatment and consequences here.
Arteriosclerosis versus atherosclerosis
Both terms are often used synonymously, but from a medical point of view this is not quite correct. Atherosclerosis describes the deposition of fatty plaques (accumulation of lipids and other substances such as white blood cells) on the walls of arteries. Strictly speaking, atherosclerosis belongs to the group of arteriosclerotic diseases. Since the disease is known in the population as "arteriosclerosis", we also use this term in the following text. 3
Arteriosclerosis explained: What happens in the body
Arteriosclerosis is a collective term for pathological changes in the arteries. These include deposits (known as plaques) on the walls of arterial blood vessels. This can be compared, for example, to a calcified water pipe. In addition to fats and fat-like substances (lipids), such as LDL cholesterol, they also contain other components such as white blood cells. As the deposits grow over time, narrowing of the arteries (stenoses) occurs, and blood can no longer flow smoothly through them. 4
In the advanced stage of arteriosclerosis, the vessel wall loses its natural elasticity. The diameter of the vessel then becomes so small that serious circulatory problems can result.
When plaques rupture, a blood clot (clotted blood within a blood vessel) can form. This can potentially cause an occlusion of the already narrowed blood vessel. In some cases result in a heart attack or stroke. 4,5
Arteriosclerosis in the
Leg arteries is the cause of peripheral arterial occlusive disease, pAVK.
In addition to this form carotid arteries, the cerebral arteries as well as the coronary arteries Particularly frequently affected by arteriosclerosis are. If the vessels in the area of the heart continue to constrict, the heart muscle is not supplied with enough blood: The heart muscle cells receive too little or no oxygen or nutrients, which can even cause them to die. Eventually, for example, coronary heart disease (CHD) or a heart attack may develop. 6
What are the symptoms of arteriosclerosis?? Vascular calcification is a gradual process. Can sometimes go unnoticed for several years. Depending on the areas of the body in which arteriosclerotic deposits form, the disease can manifest itself in different signs (symptoms):
Arteriosclerosis of the coronary vessels: If the calcification has formed in the area of the heart, coronary heart disease (CHD) can develop. It is accompanied, among other things, by shortness of breath. Chest tightness (angina pectoris). If the diameter of a coronary vessel is reduced by about 70 percent, the affected person has a particularly high risk of suffering, for example, a heart attack. Peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAVD), also known as window shopper's disease, is characterized by symptoms such as pain when walking, and a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. In the later course also noticeable by pain independent of strain. 8
Arteriosclerosis of the cerebral vessels: Circulatory disorders of the brain can trigger an ischemic stroke (cerebral infarction). 9 Ischemic means that the cerebral infarction is due to a sudden
MinderThe heart attack is due to a reduction in the blood flow to nerve cells (in contrast to hemorrhagic stroke, which is due to a Ableeding is triggered). It usually occurs suddenly and can be manifested, for example, by speech disorders, visual field loss and/or paralysis symptoms. 10
Arteriosclerosis is a systemic disease, i.e., it affects the vascular system throughout the body: if one artery is affected, the likelihood of plaques forming in other areas also increases. 11
These are the risk factors for arteriosclerosis
In addition to risk factors that cannot be influenced, such as age, gender and genetic predisposition, various other Factors favor the formation of plaques in the arteries. These include: 12
– an elevated LDL cholesterol level (genetic or due to an unhealthy lifestyle) – diabetes mellitus (diabetes) – obesity – lack of exercise – high blood prere – smoking – alcohol consumption
In the so-called familial hypercholesterolemia The disease is caused by a hereditary disorder of lipid metabolism, which can be passed on to children. Approximately one in 500 people is affected. The disease is thus one of the most common genetic disorders in Germany. 13
Why does high blood prere (hypertension) promote arteriosclerosis??
If the prere in the vascular system is permanently too high, it puts daily strain on the walls of the blood vessels. 14 This stress causes microscopic injuries on which fats such as cholesterol can be deposited, among other things. The normally elastic vessel wall hardens increasingly. 15 This in turn favors further deposits, causing blood prere to rise again – a vicious circle is created. 16
Why does smoking cause arteriosclerosis?? The consumption of tobacco can directly lead to changes in the walls of the arteries. Primarily affects the development of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries. There is a direct connection between smoking. The occurrence of coronary heart disease. According to one study, about 76 percent of patients who were born before the age of 55 have a high cholesterol level. suffer a heart attack before the age of 18, smokers. 17
In addition, tobacco consumption can have an effect on the Cholesterol levels impact. This is how it lowers the level of HDL cholesterol in the blood. Increases that of LDL cholesterol . Arteries that already show vascular calcification contract even further when smoked and the blood becomes more viscous overall. 18
Therefore: It pays to stop! No matter how long you've been a smoker, once you give it up, you can reduce your risk for heart attack. 18
What is the treatment of arteriosclerosis??
After being diagnosed with arteriosclerosis, many sufferers ask themselves whether the vascular calcification can be cured and the plaque formation reversed. According to current research, a Cure for arteriosclerosis not possible. Consistent therapy can halt its progress. Reducing the risk of secondary diseases. 19
An important step is to Adjusting lifestyle. You could initiate the following measures yourself:
– with the stop smoking. regular exercise in everyday life. – watch your diet and healthy food Integrate in the menu.
If you suffer from diabetes and/or high blood prere, your doctor will usually take certain steps to properly adjust your blood sugar levels and blood prere. If arteriosclerosis is already very advanced and the supply to certain vessels is already impaired, the narrowed artery can also be treated interventional (specifically invasive, i.e. an intervention in the body), for example by means of an Catheters or stents, widening of the arteries. A specialist decides whether treatment with medication and/or surgery is necessary to treat the arteriosclerosis. 19
Have your risk for atherosclerosis determined by a medical specialist. He can also advise you on possible treatment measures and answer your questions.
Can arteriosclerosis be prevented??
Measures to prevent and treat atherosclerosis are very similar. Thus, you should consider the following tips to keep your blood vessels healthy:
Exercise a lot and eat a healthy diet: Endurance sports, strength training, plenty of vegetables and vegetable oils such as olive oil or sunflower oil in moderation (with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) keep the vessels elastic and can prevent atherosclerosis.
Keeping an eye on LDL cholesterol levels: The LDL cholesterol level in particular plays an important role in the formation of vascular calcifications. Keep it low. 9
Do not smoke: Tobacco consumption has a negative effect on the vessels. 13 narrowing and loss of elasticity are accelerated, and arteriosclerosis may develop.
Avoid stress: Stress can also promote the formation of plaques.