Image for Arteriosclerosis (atherosclerosis)
Arteriosclerosis (atherosclerosis)

Related Terms

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Background

  • In arteriosclerosis, there is a thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries. The name arteriosclerosis is often used interchangeably with the term "atherosclerosis;" however, atherosclerosis is technically a type of arteriosclerosis. The name atherosclerosis comes from the Greek words "athero" (gruel or paste) and "sclerosis" (hardness). The term arteriosclerosis comes from the words "arterial" (artery) and "sclerosis" (hardness).
  • Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Healthy arteries are flexible, strong, and have a high degree of arterial elasticity, or flexibility. As people age, an increase in arterial stiffness is normal. Increased arterial stiffness may restrict blood flow to vital organs and is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis results from the accumulation of plaque in artery walls. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol (particularly low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol), calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Plaque accumulation causes a narrowing and a loss of elasticity of the arteries. Over time, plaques can grow in size and may partially or totally block the blood's flow through an artery. A build-up of plaque, or a clot that forms if a plaque ruptures, may block an artery, cutting off blood and oxygen supply to vital organs, which may cause a heart attack or stroke. A piece of the clot may also break off and enter the blood stream. Most commonly, the clot will travel to the legs or the lungs. This may result in an obstruction of blood flow, which in the leg, can result in a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or in the lung, a pulmonary embolism (PE). Although plaques may occur anywhere in the body, they usually cause problems in the heart, brain, and legs.
  • Arteriosclerosis may begin early in life and not present any problems or symptoms or even be diagnosed until a plaque has grown so large that it ruptures. However, others experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or leg pain, especially with exercise.
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Types of the Disease

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Risk Factors

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Causes

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Signs and Symptoms

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Diagnosis

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Complications

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Treatment

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Integrative Therapies

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Prevention

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.