What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is the building up of plaque in the walls of the arteries leading to a reduction in the calibre of the vessel.
The narrowing builds up over several years where cholesterol, fat and the smooth muscle cells lining the blood vessels have been transformed into a thickened, and sometimes calcified, mass. This is one type of Qi obstruction in the body.
As the result the arteries become constricted, their elasticity disappears and the volume of blood flow is reduced, one of the reason for limbs turning black in colour and severe dizziness.
|What are the symptoms of atherosclerosis?
* In the brain, the presence of vulnerable plaque in arteries can lead to a blood clot (thrombus), thus cutting off the supply of oxygen to an area of brain. The results of this depend on the area and amount of damaged brain tissue - for example paralysis, typically affecting only one side of the body, can occur. A brain artery affected by atherosclerosis may also rupture (haemorrhage), usually in someone who also has high blood pressure, and can potentially cause considerable brain damage from stroke.
* In the heart, it can be seen as angina, coronary thrombosis or reduced heart function (heart failure) due to damage done to the heart muscle from vessel occlusion.
* In the aorta, atherosclerosis can lead to the development of aneurysmal dilation of the thorax and abdomen - in other words a ballooning of a segment of this vessel, which is then at risk of a rupture.
* In the kidneys, atherosclerosis can lead to high blood pressure and renal failure.
* Leg pains can also be experienced due to atherosclerosis in the main and smaller arteries to the lower limbs. In extreme cases, this might mean amputation of the leg due to an insufficient blood supply, ganggrene.