Atherosclerosis is the term describing thickening and hardening of the arteries. It describes the loss of elasticity of the blood vessles and is a common condition in older people. It occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries. These hard structures, called plaques, narrow the arteries and blood flow becomes restricted.
The symptoms people experience broadly depend on the seriousness of the condition. Arteries delivers oxygenated blood to the brain. Poor oxygen supply can results in death of brain cells and this affects brain function. The symptoms will depend on the area of the brain affected.
Plaque, when it breaks away and blocks smaller blood vessels, can also cause stroke and heart disease.
I would like to inform you that in the human body there are arteries, which are blood vessels that transport oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. For them to work properly these arties need to remain flexible and elastic. When there is pressure in your arteries they can become thick and hard, which ultimately decreases blood flow throughout the body. What can cause this buildup are plaques from fats and bad cholesterol. This process is called arteriosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries. Ultimately, the plaques can burst, causing a blood clot. Atherosclerosis can affect arteries anywhere in the body. Most of the blood clots cause heart attacks and strokes.
Atherosclerosis can put an individual at risk for vascular dementia — Vascular dementia is also known as multi-infarct dementia and is caused by blockages in the brain’s blood supply. Vascular dementia can be caused by a series of mini-strokes that cause damage to the brain over and over again. Vascular dementia is often described as a “step down” process of deterioration. In other words, when a person suffers a stroke, they lose a part of their ability to function and can remain at that level as long as they do not have another stroke or mini-strokes. The damage caused to the brain can cause symptoms such as confusion, agitation, problems with language and memory, unsteady gait, causing falls, urinary frequency, urgency or incontinence, personality and mood changes. Vascular dementia is associated with risks such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, diabetes and heart problems. These risk factors may also be associated with other genetic factors. Part of treatment is reducing these risk factors and conditions. As each individual is different-a physician would prescribe medications and put a plan of care in place to help with lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and if there is a diagnosis of diabetes, help control blood sugar. Also by making basic lifestyle changes it is possible to reduce or eliminate many risk factors of vascular dementia. These lifestyle changes can include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, smoking cessation, and managing hypertension and stress. For additional tips, please visit www.alzprevention.org.
We hope you find this general health information helpful. Please note however, that this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. No information in the Answers above is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The views expressed in the Answers above belong to the individuals who posted them and do not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media. Remedy Health Media does not review or edit content posted by our community members, but reserves the right to remove any material it deems inappropriate.