What Are the Symptoms of Atherosclerosis?


Quick Answer

The symptoms of atherosclerosis depend on the location of the arteries, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Early atherosclerosis is often silent, and symptoms only appear if the condition is advanced.

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Full Answer

If atherosclerosis affects the carotid arteries, the patient may experience paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, confusion and visual disturbances, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. He may become unconscious, struggle for breath or develop a sudden, excruciating headache. These are signs of a stroke and require immediate medical attention. The carotid arteries supply blood to the brain.

Atherosclerosis in the arteries that lead to the heart can cause chest pain, according to Mayo Clinic. Atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to the genitals may result in sexual dysfunction.

If the peripheral arteries are affected, the patient may experience numbness in the legs and arms, advises the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. If the arteries that serve the kidneys are affected, the patient may develop chronic kidney disease that can lead over time to the total shutdown of the kidneys. The disease is progressive and is usually silent in its early stages. As it worsens, the person may feel tired, may have itching skin, edema of the hands and feet and changes in his urinary pattern. He may also experience nausea and a loss of appetite.

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