What Causes Hardened Arteries?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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Hardened arteries, also called atherosclerosis, are caused by the build up of plaques in the arterial walls. Such plaques can consist of varied substances, including cholesterol. Typically, the condition develops over a period of many years. Over this time, the affected arteries become thickened and irregular, resulting in the narrowing of the inner arterial channels and decreased blood flow.

Pinpointing one specific factor that stimulates the hardening of the arteries can be difficult. However, there are a number of things that contribute to the development of hardened arteries. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking are known to be causative factors in the condition. It may be caused or worsened by obesity and stress as well. Genetics may also be involved in the development of this condition.

When a person's arteries become hardened, deposits begin to build up on the affected arterial walls. This buildup may cause cells to produce additional substances in the arteries. As a result, these substances may form additional layers, further blocking the arteries.

Often, the larger arteries and the coronary arteries are affected by this condition. Over time, hardened arteries can lead to poor circulation. A person with this condition may also be at increased risk of heart attack or stroke.


Symptoms related to hardened arteries include leg pain, high blood pressure, kidney failure, aortic aneurysm, blood clots, angina, and heart attack. Frequently, individuals develop artery hardness without experiencing any obvious symptoms until the condition reaches advanced stages. Therefore, it is wise to know your family medical history and stay particularly alert for symptoms if the condition runs in your family.

Usually, individuals don't develop symptoms or complications from hardened arteries until they are at least middle aged. However, some individuals have been diagnosed with the condition in their twenties. As such, adults of all ages should be aware of the condition, its effects, and related symptoms.

A major part of diagnosis of this condition involves the medical history of the patient. Certain non-invasive tests, such as ultrasound imaging, may be used in diagnosis. Angiography, an invasive test, may be used as well. When arteries of the legs or brain are affected, computed tomography (CT) imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or angiograms may be ordered.

Prevention is key to avoiding the negative consequences of hardened arteries. To help lessen your risk of developing this condition, avoid smoking, get adequate rest and exercise, and follow a healthy diet. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or cholesterol, follow your doctor's advice for controlling these conditions. Furthermore, try to reduce stress in your life, as stress can contribute to the development of not only artery problems, but also many other health conditions.


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Post 7

I started with about 50 mg of niacin per day. Slowly, I increased it to 250 per day. Each time I took it my body flushed much like sunburn, but without the pain. Drinking water stops that, but I believe it is the burn that helps. I had high cholesterol and now I don't. Don't expect your doctor to recommend a cure. They treat people but don't cure people. It makes no sense. Niacin cured me.

Post 6

I have also been diagnosed with hardened arteries of the brain. Lately, I have been having weird feelings in my head, numbness in my face and a cold feeling in my head. I want to know what is going to happen to me and what I can expect.

Post 5

My friend was diagnosed with hardening of the arteries in her brain after an eye examination. It was a huge shock as you can imagine. What should she do now?

Post 4

Your symptoms are exactly like mine, it's incredible. At the moment the consultant has given me an MRI scan confirming hardening of the arteries. I have been put on Statins, but I also have started to get chest pains. It is quite frightening with my short term memory, and my balance is not right I often am unsteady on my feet ie when walking through a door way.

Post 3

I have been diagnosed with hardening of the arteries on the left side of brain. It was found when I was having several tests to find out what was causing me to be lightheaded almost constantly throughout the day.

I also have a problem with short-term memory loss and concentration and anxiety. This started about three months ago and now two weeks ago I started having pains in my chest. I have not received results from my cardiologist yet.

Post 1

I would like to know if hardened arteries in the brain can affect a person's thinking and decision making.

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