What is arteriosclerotic heart disease ASHD

Atherosclerosis - Symptoms and Consequences

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Heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, intermittent claudication, impotence

Atherosclerosis is an insidious disease because it develops slowly and often does not cause any symptoms for years or decades. The doctor usually only diagnoses the disease when, for example, cardiac arrhythmias, angina pectoris or sudden paralysis appear as the harbingers of a stroke. Depending on where in the body the arteriosclerotic plaques are most pronounced, symptoms appear in the heart, brain, extremities or kidneys as a result of insufficient blood flow. Serious secondary diseases are possible.

Atherosclerosis and Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

If the plaques appear in the arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood, doctors speak of coronary artery disease (CHD) or coronary sclerosis. It often manifests itself as a tightness in the chest or left chest pain. Doctors then refer to these symptoms as angina pectoris. A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery suddenly becomes completely blocked and part of the heart muscle dies.

Atherosclerosis and stroke

If atherosclerosis is particularly pronounced in the carotid arteries and arteries of the brain, a sudden blockage - for example due to a thrombus - can trigger a stroke. But even if the blood pressure suddenly drops sharply, there is sometimes a threatening undersupply of certain regions of the brain.

Arteriosclerosis and kidney damage

If the renal arteries are narrowed by deposits, this severely restricts the functionality of these filter and excretory organs. Initially, the damage proceeds without any noticeable signs. However, a urine test shows the first signs of kidney damage. If the disease progresses, it manifests itself with constant exhaustion. At the end there is kidney failure, which necessitates blood washing (dialysis).

Atherosclerosis and peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD)

Sometimes arteriosclerosis also occurs particularly in the pelvic and leg arteries. Peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD), also known as intermittent claudication or smoker's leg, occurs. The signs of circulatory disorder: With prolonged exertion, the legs hurt. Later, the symptoms appear after a short distance. Those affected have to stop for a moment, only then does the pain subside. Many hide this with a break in front of the shop window, which is where the disease got its name from. PAD is feared, among other things, because in the late stage tissue can die due to insufficient blood flow and a lower leg amputation is necessary.

Atherosclerosis and impotence

For the function of the sexual organs in women and men alike, an intact blood flow is a prerequisite. Because the blood vessels in the penis and clitoris are particularly fine, arteriosclerosis quickly becomes apparent here. Libido and erectile dysfunction are therefore also possible as early consequences. If they occur, they should always be taken seriously as a possible warning sign of arteriosclerosis.

Arteriosclerosis and periodontal disease

In addition, as a result of poor blood circulation in arteriosclerosis, periodontitis, i.e. inflammation of the gums, often occurs. If left untreated, it can lead to loss of teeth.
  • Author: Kirsten Gaede, medical journalist, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Dr. med. Karin Vogt, dermatologist and phlebologist at the Vivantes Clinic Neukölln in Berlin; medical quality assurance: Cornelia Sauter, doctor.
  • Swell: M. Dietel, N. Suttorp, M. Zeitz (eds.): Harrison's internal medicine, ABW Verlag, Berlin, 2006 (16th edition)