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Atheromasia: definition, symptoms and treatment

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Atheromasia: definition, symptoms and treatment

Article updated on 6 December 2023

What is atheromasia?

This buildup can worsen over time, narrowing an artery enough to severely limit blood flow – or even block blood flow entirely.

Also, in some cases, pieces of plaque can break off, and the body responds by producing a blood clot, which can further block the artery walls. If atheromasia becomes significant enough, it can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.

The cause

And’artery is a flexible blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other tissues and organs in the body. It has a smooth inner lining (called the endothelium), which allows unhindered blood flow. However, atheromas, or plaque buildups, can sometimes impede blood flow, leading to harmful consequences.

Atheromas can occur in any artery, but are most dangerous in medium to large arteries of the heart, arms, legs, brain, pelvis, and kidneys. They do not appear suddenly, but accumulate over many years, often starting in childhood.

However, the exact cause of atheromas and the atherosclerosis produced is not completely known. However, researchers suspect that atheromas occur after repeated injury to the endothelium, produced by genetic and lifestyle factors. In response to the injury, the body sends white blood cells to the affected area: these cells attract fats and cholesterol, and therefore help promote the growth of atheromas.

Things that cause damage to artery walls include:


The ateromi they can grow steadily over many years. Most people don’t even know they have them until they become so large that they restrict blood flow, or until a piece breaks off and blocks an artery. Symptoms vary depending on which arteries are affected and how much the atheroma is blocking blood flow.

As a rule, when an artery that supplies blood to the heart is affected by atheromas, they can occur symptoms of a heart attack or heart disease. These symptoms may include any of the following:

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chest pain, weakness, fatigue, sweating, jaw, abdominal and/or arm pain.

When the arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain are narrowed or blocked, a stroke or transient ischemic attack can occur, causing:

loss of vision in one eye, difficulty speaking, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, sudden, severe headache, dizziness or loss of balance.

However, if the problem occurs in peripheral arteriessymptoms may be traced to cramps, usually in the calf, burning or aching in the feet and toes, usually at rest, sores on the toes and feet that do not heal, feet that are cold to the touch, red skin, or skin that changes color.

The diagnosis

The doctor can diagnosing an atheroma and atherosclerosis in various ways, such as Doppler ultrasound, high-frequency sound waves bounce off the heart and arteries. An echocardiogram, similar to an ultrasound of the heart, can be helpful in providing a picture of how the blood is flowing, while a CT scan can show narrowing of the arteries. L’angiography it is sometimes required to provide an image of the veins using dyes and x-rays.

The treatment

Treating uncontrolled risk factors is the first step in stopping the damage from atheromas. Normally, drugs (usually statins) are used to reduce cholesterol, antihypertensives (such as ACE inhibitors) to lower blood pressure, and glucose control drugs to treat diabetes.

If the artery blockages are severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to clear them. Methods include angioplasty, which is the widening of an artery, or arterial bypass grafting. Carotid endarterectomy removes plaque from the carotid arteries in the neck that supply blood to the brain.


Although it is not possible to control all risk factors that promote atheroma, it is possible to control some of them.

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In particular, it is recommended stop smoking: People who quit smoking halve their risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who don’t quit smoking. Additionally, former smokers are more likely to survive a heart attack than current smokers.

It is also advisable change your dietlimiting fat to no more than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories, consuming less saturated fat and trans fat, eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and increasing your intake of high-fiber foods.

Further information and bibliography Manual of cardiovascular therapy. Stefano Savonitto; Ed., 2015 Scientific Thought Management in Cardiology. Theory and practice of cardiac governance. Giovanni Gregorio, Quinto Tozzi; Ed. Scientific Thought; 2014 Atheromasia of the aorta: what is it? | Pazienti.it Harrison. Principles of internal medicine. Dennis L. Kasper, Anthony S. Fauci, Dan L. Longo; Ed. CEA; 2016 What Is an Atheroma? – healthline.com

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