Can arteriosclerosis regress?
In contrast to the healing of arteriosclerosis, a regression of the disease is quite possible. By changing certain unhealthy habits, at least the progression of arteriosclerosis can usually be stopped. Just who suddenly changes his eating habits from unhealthy food to a balanced diet can influence his arteriosclerosis very positively. Even those who stop smoking can greatly improve the vessels in addition to their lungs, and arteriosclerosis can even partially recede. Arteriosclerosis can also be reduced with the help of drugs such as fat reducers and blood pressure medication.
What are the consequences of arteriosclerosis?
Arteriosclerosis has many very different consequences, depending on where the calcifications are deposited. Particularly in connection with smoking and diabetes mellitus, vascular constrictions occur on the legs, less frequently on the arms, which is also known as peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAD). Arteriosclerosis is the most common arterial vascular disease and is associated with generalised atherosclerosis.
Peripheral arterial occlusive disease affects 90% of the lower and 10% of the upper extremities. It can occur as a one-stage disease (one section of a vessel is affected) or as a two-stage disease (several sections of a vessel are affected). In the lower extremities, both legs are often affected at the same time, but usually to varying degrees.
The legs are no longer sufficiently supplied with oxygen and other important nutrients. This causes pain in the legs, especially during physical exertion. If the PAVK is more advanced, walking distances of only a few meters are possible.
The narrowing of the coronary arteries supplying the heart leads to coronary heart disease. Initially, the oxygen-rich blood still flowing in through the narrowed vascular lumen is still sufficient to supply the heart muscles. For this reason, the resting patient usually does not notice any vasoconstriction.
However, the oxygen demand of the heart muscle increases under stress. The blood can no longer cover the increased oxygen demand via the constricted vessels. This leads to severe pain behind the breastbone.
This is also known as unstable angina pectoris. If the vessels of the heart muscle become more and more narrow, pain occurs even at rest, because the oxygen requirement of the slowly beating heart can no longer be met either. The patient with arteriosclerosis then has pain at rest (unstable angina pectoris).
This is an absolute emergency that must be treated urgently. If the vessel is completely blocked, a heart attack occurs, in which heart muscle cells die due to lack of oxygen. Arteriosclerosis can also take hold in the two carotid arteries.
Arteriosclerosis can also endanger the supply to the brain. For this reason, if fat levels are greatly increased over a long period of time, the vessels supplying the brain may become blocked, in addition to reducing mental capacity. The poorly supplied area of the brain dies or is severely impaired by an acutely developing oedema, which in turn can result in partly regressive, partly permanent paralysis and loss of function.
Pathological arteriosclerosis can have far-reaching and dangerous consequences. In most cases, it is the organs to be supplied that are affected. Arteriosclerosis leads to a reduction in blood flow and thus to a reduction in the oxygen supply to the organ adjacent to the respective vessel.
Vessels that supply the intestines can also become narrow and thus lead to pain, especially after eating. The total closure of the mesenteric artery supplying the intestine is dangerous. Characteristically, the patient initially feels severe pain, which then recedes without further treatment, leaving the patient feeling safe.
A short time later, however, there is a further increase in pain and the intestinal section dies. In most cases, a mesenteric infarction is caused by arterial thrombi, mostly caused by atrial fibrillation. However, arteriosclerotic changes in the inner wall of the vessel can promote and accelerate intestinal infarctions.