Hidden Complications of Atherosclerosis


blood delivery to the tissues,” says Mark Silverman, MD, emeritus professor of medicine at Emory University.

“Alternately, a plaque can suddenly rupture,” causing a blood pressure to go sky-high, in a condition called Aorta

The aorta is the main pipeline of blood from the Coronary artery disease (heart)

  • Heart attacks also frequently occur with no prior symptoms of angina. “The initial symptom of a heart attack in 50% of men is sudden death,” warns Silverman.

    Heart attacks or severe blockages can also cause heart failure. “The heart doesn’t really fail, but can’t pump blood well enough to keep up with demand,” says Mosca. The result can be shortness of breath with activity, or leg swelling. Heart failure is a serious problem, and atherosclerosis is one of the most common causes.

  • Your

    Our brains demand an enormous amount of energy, delivered by blood through a handful of arteries in our necks and heads. A stroke happens when a vital artery delivering blood to the brain becomes blocked. If the artery is not reopened quickly, the brain tissue it supplies dies. Permanent can result in lasting weakness or difficulty with speech.

    In a transient ischemic attack (TIA), stroke symptoms occur, but then resolve. Most likely, TIAs are caused by blockages that somehow improve spontaneously. TIAs are near-misses, warning that a real stroke could occur at any time.

    Half of all strokes are caused by atherosclerosis. Similar to a heart attack, a stroke is a “brain attack.” An unstable atherosclerotic plaque ruptures, a blood clot forms, and the artery is blocked. Less commonly, a plaque elsewhere breaks off and travels up an artery into the brain.

    Your Legs and Feet

    Progressive narrowing of the arteries of the legs leads to peripheral arterial disease. Symptoms are in the muscle groups of the leg (buttock, thigh, or ) and most often occur with exercise, disappearing with rest. They can occur on one side or both.

    “>chronic pain caused by peripheral arterial disease, this is rare,” says Silverman. “Many people have no symptoms at all, even with significant disease,” he adds.

    Diseases Caused by Atherosclerosis: Treatment Is All for One, One for All

    Atherosclerosis is a many-headed hydra, causing many complications through a single disease process. “If you have any manifestation of atherosclerosis, you are at risk of having the others,” emphasizes Mosca.

    “The good news is, treating your risk factors for atherosclerosis reduces the risk for all these complications at once,” says Silverman.

    What can you do?

    Around 90% of the risk of a first heart attack is avoidable by following this plan. And because diseases caused by atherosclerosis are interrelated, says Silverman, “changing these behaviors reduces the risk for the other complications of atherosclerosis as well.”