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Arteriolosclerosis - Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

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Prof. Dr. Zamir A...

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Summary about Arteriolosclerosis

Arteriolosclerosis is one of the three subcategories of arteriosclerosis. While arteriosclerosis refers to the unusual hardening or thickening of arteries, arteriolosclerosis is especially about the thickening of arterioles and small arteries. One important thing to note is that the small alterations in the wall thickness often lead up to grave conditions. The process is largely dependent on the individual’s age. However, the risk and progression increases in people with diabetes or hypertension. There are two classifications of arteriolosclerosis: Hyaline arteriolosclerosis and Hyperplastic arteriolosclerosis.

Symptoms of Arteriolosclerosis

The symptoms largely depend on the affected arteries or arterioles:

  • If the arteriolosclerosis is in the blood vessels of the heart, chest pain would be experienced.
  • If the arteriolosclerosis is in the arteries or arterioles linked to the brain, sudden numbness or weakness in limbs or speech difficulties would be encountered. Other symptoms include temporary damage to eye sight or overly relaxed face muscles. If left untreated, these symptoms would gradually transform into a stroke.
  • Arteriolosclerosis in arterioles or arteries in the limbs would present peripheral blood vessel disease symptoms. These would include pain in the leg while walking.
  • Arteriolosclerosis in blood vessels leading to kidneys will manifest in high blood pressure or even kidney failure.



Causes of Arteriolosclerosis

The condition begins when the inner layer of the small arteries and arterioles is damaged. High blood pressure, smoking or elevated levels of cholesterol, all are possible causes. This damage builds up the plaque. The bad cholesterol passes over the disrupted inner lining. Then it settles through the damage and into the wall of the artery or arteriole. This in turn leads to white blood cells streaming in order to consume the cholesterol. This cholesterol gradually grows to be a plaque and a hindrance to the blood flow. 

This plaque basically builds up a bump which only gets larger as arteriolosclerosis develops. Inevitably it blocks the blood vessel once it gets to a certain size. This process commences all over the body and puts not only the heart at risk, it also raises the probability for stroke. While arteriolosclerosis does not show proper symptoms until older age, once the blood vessels get very narrow, it can cut off the blood flow and be painful. These blocks to the blood flow can also break away which would further damage the inner wall. This damage would induce the mechanism of clotting which would in turn build bumps.


Risk Factors of Arteriolosclerosis

At age 40, a healthy individual will have a fifty percent chance of getting a condition very similar to arteriolosclerosis. This susceptibility will only increase with age. Those above 60 have a very high risk of developing this condition.
Smoking, higher levels of stress, obesity, unhealthy diet, all have been linked to elevated risk of getting arteriolosclerosis.
However, due to better quality of life and better treatments, the death toll from arteriolosclerosis has decreased by a substantial amount.

Preventive Measures of Arteriolosclerosis

Preventive measures involve identification of the risk factors of arteriolosclerosis and trying to counter them. This would include smoking less, or giving up smoking entirely. Eating healthier foods, exercising regularly, and losing weight is also recommended. Other measures include properly controlling diabetes (if that is present), blood pressure and keeping a steady intake of fruits and vegetables.

Types of Arteriolosclerosis

  • Hyaline arteriolosclerosis. In Hyaline arteriolosclerosis, the plasma proteins leak into the blood vessel wall and thicken it. This also typically occurs in diabetics.
  • Hyperplastic arteriolosclerosis. Hyperplastic arteriolosclerosis, on the other hand, this condition involves the muscle cell’s hypertrophy in the small arteries. This results in building up of concentric layers of muscle

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