Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes blockages in the walls of arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Artery blockages make it harder for blood to flow. This restriction can cause chest pain, heart attack and other health issues.
Atherosclerosis can be dangerous, but is highly treatable when diagnosed early enough. At Aurora Health Care, we use advanced, minimally invasive methods to reopen blocked blood vessels, so you can recover quicker.
In its early stages, atherosclerosis has no signs or symptoms. Blockages may build up gradually and painlessly.
Atherosclerosis can affect arteries anywhere in your body. As the condition progresses, signs of atherosclerosis vary depending on which arteries are affected:
Atherosclerosis is caused when a substance called plaque forms inside your artery walls. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other materials found in your blood. This buildup causes your artery walls to narrow and harden.
Many doctors and researchers suspect that atherosclerosis may be caused by damage to the arteries. This damage might be caused by:
Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in your body, including those in your heart, legs, brain and kidneys.
As a result, atherosclerosis can lead to a variety of disorders, depending on where it’s located:
Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis specifically refers to blood vessels becoming thick or stiff. Sometimes, people use these two words interchangeably.
Both atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis produce signs indicating that you have narrowed or hardened arteries. During a physical exam, doctors might notice:
If doctors find any signs of hardening of the arteries, they may do additional tests, such as:
Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis and testing at Aurora.
When it comes to atherosclerosis, prevention is the best medicine. Many people aren’t aware that they have hardening of the arteries until they have a heart attack or stroke. But people can reduce their risk with healthy lifestyle and diet choices.
If we know you are at risk, we may recommend medications to help lower cholesterol, control blood pressure or prevent blood clots.
In some cases, you might need more direct treatment to clear arteries or prevent a blockage or blood clot. We offer every advanced treatment for atherosclerosis, including:
Find out more about our vascular services.