The causes of atherosclerosis include hypertension, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, smoking, and diabetes, explains Mayo Clinic. The disease can also develop as a result of inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, lupus and infection.
Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease marked by the buildup of plaques in the arterial walls, which consist of fats, cholesterol and other substances, according to Mayo Clinic. The accumulation of plaques can cause significant narrowing of the arterial lumen and may restrict blood flow to major organs. Complications of atherosclerosis include coronary artery disease, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease and aneurysms.
The symptoms of atherosclerosis depend on the location of the affected arteries, claims Mayo Clinic. Patients with atherosclerosis of the heart vessels may experience chest pain or chest pressure. Plaque formation in the arteries that supply the brain can cause sudden numbness, weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty speaking, and drooping of the muscles in the face. Atherosclerosis in the arteries of the legs can cause pain when walking. Patients with atherosclerosis in the arteries of the kidneys may develop hypertension.
The treatment of atherosclerosis includes diet, exercise, medications and surgery, explains Mayo Clinic. Medications can slow and reverse the effects of atherosclerosis and include cholesterol drugs, anti-platelet medications, beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. Other drugs include diuretics and medications that control the risk factors of atherosclerosis. Surgical intervention includes angioplasty with stent placement, endarterectomy, thrombolytic therapy and bypass surgery.