This is the medical term for hardening (and narrowing) of the arteries which are caused by several factors, one of these being high blood pressure.

The narrower your arteries the harder your heart has to work to pump blood through them. This further increases the pressure of the blood flow which causes your blood pressure to rise even more.

The danger here is if an artery narrows to the extent that it becomes blocked which then prevents blood from flowing through. The part of the body which is nourished by this blood flow (and receives oxygen and vital nutrients) then dies which can have serious consequences.

If this happens near the brain then a stroke occurs.

If it happens near the heart then a heart attack occurs.

Arteriosclerosis is often interchanged with atherosclerosis but there is a difference between the two.

Arteriosclerosis is an umbrella term for any number of diseases which cause the artery walls to thicken and narrow. There are three types of arteriosclerosis which includes atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is the name given to the build up of fats inside the artery walls which causes these to narrow and eventually restrict blood flow. A diet which is high in saturated fat can cause atherosclerosis.

Both of these are caused by high blood pressure.

Causes of arteriosclerosis

These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, a high fat diet, lack of exercise, smoking and excess alcohol consumption. If someone in your family has arteriosclerosis then you have a greater risk of developing this.

Ethnicity also plays a part. If you are African or South Asian then you too have an increased risk of arteriosclerosis which also goes hand in hand with an increased risk of high blood pressure.

Symptoms of arteriosclerosis

This does not present with any symptoms until late on, usually when there are problems with circulation or a cardiovascular disease e.g. angina. A heart attack or stroke is another indication of a blocked artery due to arteriosclerosis.

Effects of arteriosclerosis

This condition can lead to an aneurysm, kidney failure, stroke, heart attack, peripheral arterial disease and heart failure.

Treatment of arteriosclerosis

This will involve medication to treat the underlying causes which are likely to be high blood pressure and raised cholesterol.

There are various forms of medication for high blood pressure which include ACE inhibitors and diuretics. These and other forms of medication are discussed in more detail in our treating high blood pressure section.

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