Atherosclerosis, often known as ‘hardening of the arteries’ is the most common vascular disease and the leading cause of adult deaths in Ireland and the Western World.
Atherosclerosis commonly causes the following directly related conditions;
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Stroke (Cerebrovascular disease)
- Peripheral Arterial Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease
Coronary Artery Disease: Disease of the blood vessels in the heart can lead to Angina (Chest Discomfort with exertion or at rest), Heart Attack or Sudden Death.
Hypertension: Increased blood pressure can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis and is a leading modifiable risk factor.
Stroke: Disease of the blood vessels to the brain can cause Stroke.
Peripheral Arterial Disease: This is when blood vessels supplying the legs become narrowed of blocked. Patients describe cramping discomfort in the legs brought on by exercise. In severe cases pain can occur at rest and discoloration of the skin and ulceration can progress to gangrene.
Chronic Kidney Disease: Often caused by atherosclerosis kidney failure leads to a build up of wastes in the blood causing illness. This can be caused by atherosclerosis but also makes existing blood vessel disease worse. Early detection can slow the progression of this condition.
An ultrasound scan of the carotid artery in the neck can be used to assess the extend of atherosclerosis and predict the likelihood of a further adverse vascular event, guiding the need for preventative measures.