The narrowing or stenosis of the arteries
is usually due to atherosclerosis or the hardening of the arteries.Atherosclerosis
is the condition whereby a fatty substance (cholesterol) is deposited against the artery wall. Over time the amount of fat will increase narrowing the diameter of the artery. This fatty substance is called atheromatous plaque in the medical world.
Once this plaque starts to crack a blood clot may form which may clog the entire artery.(click the photograph for a larger image).
Because the arteries become increasingly narrow the blood flow will be reduced resulting in the following diseases:
Peripheral arterial disease
Atherosclerosis may cause a narrowing of the abdominal, iliac or leg arteries. When walking you may experience pain in your calf, thigh or buttock. After a short rest the pain will go away and you can continue to walk. This is known as intermittent claudication.
In case of serious peripheral arterial disease the blood flow to your legs will be reduced to the extent that it becomes impossible to walk. The patient will even experience pain when at ease. In this critical situation the patient will soon start to see chronic wounds appear on the toes, feet or legs. The leg's viability will be compromised and the patient runs a real risk of losing a limb.
- Balloon dilation with insertion of a stent
- Removal of the atheromatous plaque
- Combination of the above treatments
Narrowing of the carotid arteries
The carotid arteries supply blood to the brain.
When a clot or a piece of atheromatous plaque breaks free and moves towards a carotid artery leading to the brain the patient suffers an attack.
Examples include: hemiplegia, speech disorders, visual field loss, sudden blindness or blurred vision.
If the claudication is large and lasts for a long time part of the brain may die and the malfunction may become permanent. This is called an infarct.
- Balloon dilatation with insertion of a stent
- Removal of the atheromatous plaque
Narrowing of the abdominal and intestinal arteries
Chronic stomach and intestinal circulation disorders may give rise to abdominal cramps after a meal. The patient will also lose a significant amount of weight as she/he will stop eating out of fear of the ensuing pain.
- Balloon dilation and insertion of a stent
Narrowing of the renal arteries
Renal circulation disorders are one of the many causes of a reduced renal function or increased blood pressure.
- Balloon dilatation and insertion of a stent
Causes of arterial stenosis
Atherosclerosis has several causes.
A number of causes cannot be prevented: these include ageing, gender (men may already suffer from atherosclerosis from a young age) or congenital predisposition.
By living a healthy life, the number of inducing factors and the incidence of coronary disease may be reduced.
Our body needs cholesterol, which is generated in our liver. But we also absorb it through food. There is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. The bad cholesterol will stick to the artery wall causing stenosis.
Avoid high blood pressure.
The heart of people with high blood pressure has to pump harder to pump the blood through the body. This may cause serious damage to the artery walls.
Smoking is bad for your lungs but it may also (among others) give rise to serious cardiovascular diseases. The arteries become narrower due to smoking reducing the blood supply to the heart as a consequence. Smokers have a three times higher risk of having a heart attack than non-smokers.
Watch your diet and exercise sufficiently.
Healthy and balanced food and regular exercise will keep your heart young and healthy and will significantly reduce your risk of contracting diabetes. Diabetes will irretrievably damage your artery walls.<top>