It is believed that atherosclerosis is associated exclusively with cardiovascular (angina pectoris, heart attack) and neurological (intense headaches, stroke) diseases. However, the scale of the lesion in this pathology is much more extensive, and one of its little-known consequences is intermittent claudication and even amputation of limbs.
Men more often
According to statistics, men suffer from atherosclerosis about 2-3 times more often than women. This is partly due to the “protective” effect of female sex hormones (up to the onset of menopause) on the one hand, and an early decrease in testosterone in men, on the other.
Testosterone levels in most of the “strong half of humanity” begin to decline after 30 years. While he is involved in maintaining normal vascular tone (protectio
n against arterial hypertension) and metabolism (protection against diabetes and obesity).
Also, a lack of testosterone in men is associated with the risk of osteoporosis, depression and anxiety disorders.
Smoking is another important risk factor for atherosclerosis. Nicotine, as you know, acts on several “fronts” at once:
stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (stimulating effect),
acts on the corresponding receptors in the heart and blood vessels, provoking vasoconstriction (rise in blood pressure) and increased heart rate,
stimulates the release of catecholamines (hormones “stress”) by the adrenal cortex, which also causes vascular reactions.
Ultimately, this leads to damage to the fragile endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels) and a sharp increase in the risk of atherosclerosis and thrombosis (due to inflammation of the vascular wall).
In addition, carbon dioxide and tar inhaled during smoking have a detrimental effect on blood vessels. Under their influence, the aggregation (gluing) of platelets increases and the blood coagulation system is activated.
A natural consequence of atherosclerosis is a pronounced depletion of blood flow due to narrowing of the vessel lumen by an atherosclerotic plaque or thrombus, which can manifest itself:
heart problems (rhythm disturbances, angina pectoris, heart attack),
neurological symptoms (severe headaches, stroke),
symptoms of impaired peripheral blood flow (“chilliness” of the extremities, intermittent claudication, trophic ulcers).
Intermittent claudication is one of the symptoms of a lack of blood flow (ischemia) in the lower extremities. It is manifested by pain and cramps in the calf muscles that occur when walking and forcing the patient to stop. The degree of vascular damage can be indirectly estimated by the distance of painless walking.
It should be noted that “visible” and “tangible” symptoms of atherosclerosis appear only when the vessel is narrowed by at least 75%. This, obviously, creates conditions for late diagnosis and a decrease in the therapeutic possibilities of treatment. When the patient is forced to stop walking because of pain in the legs, then the lumen of the vessels is already significantly narrowed.
How to control
The only way to protect yourself from formidable complications is to regularly screen lipid metabolism and vascular condition (even before the onset of symptoms).
Among the instrumental research methods, ultrasound dopplerography of blood vessels has proven itself well. And as a laboratory stage of diagnostics, a comprehensive blood test “Base lipid profile” is recommended.
Research includes determining:
total cholesterol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholesterol,
coefficient of atherogenicity.
This allows us to assess not only the existing deviations, but also the risk of their occurrence.