is one of the most common diseases of the blood
vessels. It refers to a thickening of the walls of the
arteries due to the presence of calcium or lime. It
has become a common ailment in modern times,
accounting for much of the disability and high death
rate among older people.
usually preceded by arthrosclerosis, a kind of
degeneration or softening of the inner lining of the
blood vessels walls. The most risky places for such
degeneration are the coronary vessels of the heart
and the arteries leading to the brain.
Arteriosclerosis results in the loss of elasticity
of the blood vessels, with a narrowing of the
smaller arteries, which interferes with the free
circulation of the blood. These changes may
gradually extend to capillaries and veins.
more frequent in men than women, especially in the
younger age-group. It has been estimated that 40 per
cent of al men over 40 years have a significant
degree of obstruction of their coronary arteries and
this can lead to a heart attack at any time.
symptoms of arteriosclerosis vary with arteries
involved. Signs of inadequate blood supply generally
appear first in the legs. There may be numbness and
coldness in the feet and cramps and pains in the
legs even after light exercise. If the coronary
arteries are involved, the patient may have sharp
pains, characteristic of angina pectoris. When
arteries leading to the brain are involved, the
vessel may burst, causing hemorrhage in the brain
tissues. A cerebral vascular stroke, with partial or
complete paralysis of one side of the body may
result, if there is blockage with a blood clot. It
may also lead to loss of memory and a confused state
of mind in elderly people. If arteries leading to
the kidneys are involved, the patient may suffer
from high blood pressure and kidney disorders.
important cause of arteriosclerosis is an excessive
intake of white sugar, refined foods, and high-fat
diet rich in cholesterol. A sedentary life is also
major contributing cause. Hardening of the arteries
may also be caused by other diseases such as high
blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, rheumatism,
Bright’s disease, malaria, syphilis.
stress also plays an important part, and heart
attacks are more common during the periods of mental
and emotional disturbances, particularly in those
engaged in sedentary occupations. Heredity also
plays its role and this disease runs in families.