8 Symptoms of Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the blood vessels, is one of the most comment ailments in the modern world. It’s caused by the gradual build-up of fatty plaque in your veins and arteries. If left untreated, it can lead to heart attacks, permanent brain damage, aneurysms and chronic kidney disease.

This disease is caused by injury to blood vessels. When the vessels become damaged, the body sends repair units to the site. These units patch up the damage with fatty plaque but permanently narrow the artery or vein. Eventually, you accumulate so many repaired spots that you can’t get enough blood through to the organs and tissues that need it. Sometimes the plaque even breaks off and enters the bloodstream. The drifting plaque can make its way to narrower blood vessels and completely block them.

1. Leg Pain While Exercising

Atherosclerosis can affect every area of your body, including your lower half. One sign of this disease is leg pain in your calves, thighs or hips during exercise, a symptom known as claudication. When you exercise, your muscles need increased oxygen from your blood. If the blood vessels are blocked by too much plaque, you can’t get the oxygen you need, leading to pain. Your body doesn’t want you to damage your muscles by forcing them to activate when they don’t have the resources you need, so it tries to make you stop by signaling something is wrong. The pain stops when you rest.

As your condition worsens, you can experience leg pain while resting. This is a sign of advanced atherosclerosis because it means your muscles can’t get oxygen even when they need very little of it. You’ll likely notice this sign more when your legs are elevated. Your heart and circulatory system must work harder to pump blood to your lower body when you’re reclined, especially if your blood vessels are blocked by plaque accumulation.