Vascular calcification, also known as arteriosclerosis, is a systematic disease of the arterial blood vessels of the body. In colloquial language it is also called arteriosclerosis. Due to the arteriosclerosis, the lumen of the blood vessels can become increasingly narrow due to increased fat storage and thus weaken the blood supply in the subsequent flow area.

Risk factors of arteriosclerosis

Although there is a constant need to identify new risk factors for arteriosclerosis, there is now a consensus on the main causes of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and atherosclerosis. The main risk factors are Lack of exercise and negative stress are also believed to lead to vasoconstriction if this lifestyle is maintained for decades. The risk factors mentioned above generally lead to an unfavourable blood composition, a local lack of oxygen and to pressure damage and vertebral formation at the vascular branches.

Risk factors that cannot be influenced are:

  • High blood pressure
  • An elevated cholesterol level
  • The smoking
  • Diabtes mellitus
  • Predisposing genetic factors
  • The age,
  • Gender (men are statistically more frequently affected by arteriosclerosis than women)
  • And menopause. Menopausal women also have a greatly increased risk of developing arteriosclerosis. The reason for this is suspected to be a lack of estrogen.

These symptoms indicate arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis is a vascular disease that can manifest itself in a wide variety of symptoms. The symptoms depend above all on where the arteriosclerotic plaques have settled. If the arteriosclerosis settles in the coronary arteries, these are strongly constricted and blood can hardly be pumped through them.

This leads to a nutrient and oxygen deficiency in the heart muscles, which initially becomes noticeable especially under stress. This leads to a feeling of pressure and tightness on the chest. Chest pains can also occur, and there is also increased reduced performance and fatigue.

A lack of oxygen especially during physical exertion can also be a sign. If the arteriosclerosis is increasingly lodged in the carotid artery, the brain is particularly affected by circulatory disorders. In mild cases, mild and very unspecific symptoms such as dizziness, headaches and fainting spells occur.

If one of the arteriosclerotic plaques suddenly dissolves, however, this can have serious consequences in the brain and, for example, trigger a stroke. Arteriosclerosis, which tends to affect the peripheral vessels (far from the heart), leads mainly to circulatory disorders of the hands and feet. These quickly become blue and cold.

In this case, too, a lack of oxygen can lead to muscle pain. Cold hands and feet are usually due to arteriosclerosis in the supplying vessels. Most often the legs and thus the feet are affected, but the arteries that supply the arms with blood can also be constricted by arteriosclerosis.

The reduced blood flow means that less heat can be conducted into the hands and feet, which is why they quickly become cold. This is particularly noticeable in winter. In the cold season, even healthy people are often unable to keep their hands and feet warm permanently.

A thrombosis most often occurs in the deep veins of the legs. There are small valves in the blood vessels which are supposed to help to transport the blood back to the heart against gravity. However, since they change the flow conditions in the vessel, blood clots, i.e. thrombi, can easily form there.

In the disease arteriosclerosis, calcium deposits form in the arteries. Similar to the venous valves, they change the flow behavior of the blood and lead to small turbulences. As a result, the blood is greatly accelerated in some places, and significantly slowed down in others.

In places where the blood flows very slowly, blood cells can get stuck to the vessel wall. As a result, more and more parts of the blood get stuck there and a blood clot forms. Dementia is a symptom of old age, which is usually due to a degenerative restructuring of the brain.

But arteriosclerosis can also play a decisive role in dementia. If arteriosclerotic plaques lead to reduced blood flow in the brain, the tissue there is damaged. The reduced supply of nutrients and oxygen causes some of the cells to die.

Over the course of time, the areas of the brain can thus gradually lose their size. The less brain mass remains, the faster the dementia progresses. Other degenerative diseases can also be worsened by arteriosclerosis in arteries leading to the brain.

Arteriosclerosis, if it affects the arteries that supply the reproductive organs, can also lead to impotence. Especially in men, weak erections and impotence are therefore a sign of arteriosclerosis. This is when plaques settle in the small vessels that supply the penis with blood.

The insufficient blood supply leads to a lack of nutrients. The erection is also normally controlled by a large inflow of blood. If this influx does not occur due to arteriosclerosis, weak erections and impotence can be the result.

Leg pain is a typical symptom of peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD). The arteriosclerosis becomes so entrenched in the leg arteries that hardly any blood reaches the lower legs and feet. Here you will also find further information: Peripheral arterial occlusive disease Especially when walking, the muscles are therefore insufficiently supplied with oxygen and other nutrients.

In addition, metabolic waste accumulates, which should actually be removed by the blood. This means that many sufferers can only walk a few metres at a time before severe leg pain sets in. Since affected persons often have to stand still, the disease is also known as window dressing.

Arteriosclerotic plaques can be deposited in the carotid artery. There, they first constrict the vessel and thus reduce the blood flow to the brain. The consequences are dizziness, sometimes even fainting spells.

Individual brain regions can also be disturbed. This can manifest itself, for example, in impaired vision or forgetfulness. Small blood clots can also form on the calcifications in the carotid artery.

Over time, these can come loose and cause a stroke in the brain. This might also be of interest to you: Blocked carotid artery – What to do? Arteriosclerosis can also form on the abdominal artery.

This leads to the fact that the vessels that are supposed to supply the abdominal organs are no longer supplied with sufficient blood. As a result, these organs malfunction or even the tissue dies. The kidneys react particularly sensitively to a reduced blood supply.

They regulate the blood pressure in an upward direction and thus further worsen the risk factors for arteriosclerosis. The abdominal artery itself can also be severely affected by arteriosclerosis. The wall becomes stiff and brittle, so that the abdominal aorta, a so-called aneurysm, can bulge.