Atherosclerosis involves the deposition of cholesterol and calcium, and the build-up of inflammatory cells in arterial walls, leading to the narrowing and hardening of the artery. As arteries lose their elasticity, a person can experience increased blood pressure and ischaemia (oxygen deprivation). An occlusion in a (i) coronary artery can cause angina or myocardial ischaemia (ii) cerebral artery can cause a transient ischaemic attack or a stroke (iii) artery of the lower limb causes peripheral vascular disease (PVD).
Risk factors: smoking, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, diabetes and family history.
Symptoms of PVD: cramping pain in the leg, aching muscles, numbness and weakness of the legs.
Who to consult: Counselling (quit smoking), dietician, exercise physiologist, GP, herbalist, homoeopath, naturopath.