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When Should I Be Worried About Atherosclerosis?

Posted on May 01, 2024

If you have atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, your risk for peripheral arterial disease increases. But what causes this condition? And when should you worry about atherosclerosis? Keep reading to find out.

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Atherosclerosis: Causes and Symptoms

Atherosclerosis develops when plaque builds up in your inner arterial lining. Several different factors could cause atherosclerosis, including high cholesterol and/or triglycerides, high blood pressure levels (hypertension), smoking, diabetes, being above the age of 50, following a diet that’s high in saturated fat and obesity, especially around your abdomen.

When atherosclerosis is mild, you probably won’t experience any symptoms or warning signs. But as the condition progresses and impacts arteries in your arms and legs, you may develop peripheral arterial disease, with symptoms such as leg pain when walking (medically referred to as claudication.)
In its early stages, claudication caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD) will resolve with rest. However, the disease is progressive. So, if you don’t seek treatment in the early stages, you may develop addition symptoms, some of which could threaten your general health. As such, you may be wondering: when should I be worried about atherosclerosis?

When Should I Be Worried About Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis can affect arteries outside of your arms and legs. If you develop hardening in the arteries leading to your heart, you may experience chest pain or pressure; shoulder, back or arm pain; shortness of breath; or even an irregular heart beat. When arteries leading to your kidneys are affected, organ failure could follow. And if the arteries leading to your brain harden, you may start slurring your words; experiencing weakness or numbness in one or more limbs; lose your vision; or experience facial drooping. At this point, if your atherosclerosis is left untreated, you are at an elevated risk for a stroke.

Regardless of which arteries are affected by hardening, atherosclerosis can be a dangerous condition. As such, the time to worry about atherosclerosis is as soon as you receive your diagnosis. In this way, you can seek early intervention and prevent serious complications.

Treating Atherosclerosis and PAD in Texas

At our Texas Endovascular clinics in Houston, Sugar Land, Katy, Clear Lake, the Woodlands and Dallas, our interventional radiologists can treat atherosclerosis and resolve PAD symptoms using minimally invasive procedures. The course of treatment will depend on your disease progression, but options include angioplasty (widening your artery with a medical balloon); stenting (keeping your artery open with a medical device known as a stent); and atherectomy (a procedure that breaks up plaque deposits in your artery with the assistance of a catheter.)

If you’re wondering, when should I be worried about atherosclerosis, we invite you to click here to request a consultation click here to request a consultation click here to request a consultation with our interventional radiologists. When you come into the office, we’ll assess your blood flow using the bedside Ankle-Brachial Index (ABI) text. If results are abnormal, we may suggest further imaging tests to properly assess your current state of health, and help craft your individualized treatment plan.

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