What are the symptoms of atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow to body organs and tissues, resulting in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals. Mild atherosclerosis usually does not produce any symptoms. However, symptoms of moderate to severe atherosclerosis depend on which arteries are affected.
Common symptoms of atherosclerosis
The most common symptoms of atherosclerosis are related to disturbances in the arteries of the heart, brain and limbs.
- Symptoms related to disturbances in heart arteries include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing (tachypnea)
- Symptoms related to disturbances in brain arteries include:
- Drooping muscle in the face
- Garbled or slurred speech or inability to speak
- Sudden numbness in the arms or legs
- Symptoms related to disturbances in arm and leg arteries include:
- Arm pain
- Leg pain
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, atherosclerosis can be life threatening. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these life-threatening symptoms including:
- Blurred or double vision
- Change in level of consciousness or alertness, such as passing out or unresponsiveness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty with memory, thinking, talking, comprehension, writing or reading
- Numbness, weakness or paralysis of one side of the face
- Rapid breathing (tachypnea) or shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
- Severe back pain
- Worst headache of your life
What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty material, such as fats and cholesterol in the bloodstream, collects along the walls of arteries. This fatty material thickens, hardens, and forms hard structures called plaques that narrow, and may eventually block blood flow through, the arteries. Narrowing and blockage of arteries results in Read more about atherosclerosis introduction
What causes atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is caused by the accumulation in the bloodstream of fat, cholesterol, and other substances that build up on the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques. Plaque narrows and stiffens the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through the artery. In addition, pieces of plaque can break off and travel through the affected artery (embolize) and lodge in smaller blood vessels, blocking them and causing tissue damage, which may be life threatening. Atherosclerosis occurs most often in people who have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors for the development... Read more about atherosclerosis causes