This Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis – but both terms are sometimes used to mean the same thing.  Atherosclerosis confusingly is a specific type of arteriosclerosis.  Both conditions are a vascular disease.

  1. Arteriosclerosis is the thickening and hardening of the walls of the arteries. 
  2. Atherosclerosisis the narrowing of the artery because of plaque build-up.

Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of our body.  They are lined with a thin layer of cells, called endothelium.  These are cells that keep the arteries smooth and allows blood to flow easily.  Atherosclerosis starts when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing the harmful type cholesterol build up in the artery wall.  Your immune system will send white blood cells to clean up this cholesterol but sometimes other cells can get stuck at the affected site.

What will happen if I don’t seek medical help?

In some cases, the plaque eventually, breaks open. If this happens, platelets gather in the affected area and can stick together, forming blood clots. This can block the artery, leading to life-threatening complications, such as critical limb ischemia, strokes or a heart attack.   

What arteries are effected by arteriosclerosis?

Arteriosclerosis can affect all arteries, but mainly affects the larger, high-pressure arteries, like the carotid (neck), renal, the femoral artery (leg)  or coronary (heart) arteries.

10 Risk Factors for Artery Disease:
  1. Smoking
  2. Diabetes
  3. Age – persons over 60
  4. Family history
  5. High Blood Pressure
  6. Obesity
  7. High Cholesterol
  8. Lack of exercise
  9. Ethnicity
  10. High homocysteine
Is  Arteriosclerosis & Atherosclerosis treatable?

Yes. Our two vascular surgeons are specialists in diagnosing and treating arterial disease.

How is Artery Disease diagnosed?
  • You will first have a consultation with one of our vascular specialists, Mr. JK Wicks or Dr Taumeopeau.  During this consultation, the specialist will take a full history, do a physical examination and send for a painless and non invasive ultrasound test.
  • An ultrasound:  This procedure that can be done by our own sonographer (ultrasound technician) at Specialist Vein Health.  It takes between 30-90 minutes.   This ultrasound test can show blockages or narrowing in your arteries.  The results help your surgeon decide if you need further tests and plan out the best treatment for you.  These further tests may include a CTA or MRI scan (all are mostly non invasive). 
What if I do have a blocked or narrowed artery?

If you have minimal or no symptoms and tests show narrowing (often called a stenosis) you are often treated with medical management by your vascular specialist and lifestyle changes.  If surgical treatments is offered it is to improve blood flow to vital parts of your body, such as your brain, heart, kidneys or foot.  Surgical treatments may include

  1. Angioplasty
  2. carotid endarterectomy
Can I be screened if I have risk factors but no symptoms?

Yes.  If you are over 70 or over 50 with diabetes or a history of smoking.  People who have these two risk factors are most at risk of developing artery disease.

When should I see a SVH surgeon?
  • Your GP can refer you or we do accept patients directly referring themselves.  
  • If you have pain or numbness or any other symptoms don’t ignore them as part of normal aging.   
What will happen when I have booked to see a SVH surgeon?
  • We have developed a 3 stage arterial pathway which includes
  •  Consultation
  • Diagnosis – We will book you for the appropriate scan(s) at our SVH ultrasound lab.
  • Treatment – recommendations and a plan will be made with you after diagnosis is completed.  Treating atherosclerosis is important for preventing ongoing health complications.