What are the Symptoms of Atheroma?

What are the Symptoms of Atheroma?

Atheroma refers to the accumulation of fatty deposits, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the inner lining of arteries, forming plaques. These plaques can narrow or obstruct the arteries, leading to reduced blood flow and potential complications. Atheroma can occur in various arteries throughout the body, including those in the heart, brain, legs, and other organs. The symptoms of atheroma largely depend on the affected arteries and the degree of blockage. Here are some common symptoms associated with atheroma:

  • Angina Pectoris: Atheroma in the coronary arteries (coronary artery disease) can cause angina pectoris, which is characterized by chest pain or discomfort due to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.
  • Shortness of Breath (Dyspnea): Atheroma in the arteries supplying the heart may lead to shortness of breath, especially during physical activity or exertion.
  • Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction): If a plaque ruptures or completely blocks a coronary artery, it can result in a heart attack, causing severe chest pain, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and nausea.
  • Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident or CVA): Atheroma in the arteries supplying the brain can lead to a stroke, causing sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, severe headache, and difficulty walking.
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Atheroma in the arteries of the legs can cause PAD, resulting in leg pain, cramping, weakness, or numbness during physical activity, known as intermittent claudication.
  • Carotid Artery Disease: Atheroma in the carotid arteries (neck) can lead to transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or mini-strokes, causing temporary weakness, numbness, or speech difficulties.
  • Renal Artery Disease: Atheroma in the renal arteries can cause high blood pressure (hypertension), kidney dysfunction, or kidney failure.
  • Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA): Atheroma in the abdominal aorta can lead to the development of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, often asymptomatic but potentially causing severe abdominal or back pain if the aneurysm ruptures.
  • Intermittent Claudication: Pain, cramping, or fatigue in the muscles of the legs during physical activity due to reduced blood flow caused by atheroma in the leg arteries.
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED): Atheroma affecting the arteries supplying the genital area can contribute to erectile dysfunction in men.
  • Poor Wound Healing: Atheroma can impair blood circulation, leading to slower healing of wounds, ulcers, or sores.
  • Vision Changes: Atheroma affecting the arteries supplying the eyes can cause vision changes or vision loss in severe cases.

It’s important to note that atheroma may progress without noticeable symptoms, especially in the early stages. Regular medical check-ups, managing risk factors (e.g., high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking), a healthy diet, exercise, and appropriate medical treatments can help reduce the risk of atheroma and its potential complications. If you suspect you have atheroma or are experiencing concerning symptoms, seek medical attention for a thorough evaluation and diagnosis.

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