"Sclerosis" refers to any fibrous degeneration of tissue or organ. With age, the tissues that make up the arteries lose their elasticity and become more rigid. The normal aging of the arteries is called arteriosclerosis.

Hardening (sclerosis) is the thickening of the walls of the arteries. Currently, this term is used to designate predominant arterial sclerosis on the muscle fibers (bundles of muscles) constituting the average tunica. An artery consists of three superimposed tunics: the intima inside, the medium in the middle and the adventitious on the outside.

The term arteriosclerosis is often used as a synonym for atherosclerosis, which is a disease of the arteries of chronic evolution and is characterized by a deposit of lipids (fatty substance) in the intima, which leads to the formation of yellowish plaques called atheromas These plates induce a proliferation of the elastic fibers associated with a decrease in the volume of the connective tissue (supporting and filling tissue) and accompanied by calcifications (hardening by mineral deposit).

At this stage, the lesion will ulcerate and become covered with thrombosis (a blood clot that can block the artery). This transformation of the tissues composing the walls of the artery will progress from the intima to the media. Different changes in the media may possibly to the outer layer (outer tunic). The arteries most often affected are the arteries of the brain, the coronary arteries (the arteries of the heart), the aorta (the biggest arterial trunk leaving the heart), the arteries of the muscles and the arteries of the kidneys Nephro-angiosclerosis).

Hyper plastic arteriosclerosis is characterized by an increase in the volume of the layer of cells making up the intima and the layer of cells between the intima and the media composed of elastic fibers that allow the artery to contract ( Beats at the origin of the pulse). It is at this level that an infiltration of fatty matter (lipid infiltration) is at the origin of the senescence (aging) of the artery.


A number of elements are likely to promote the onset or worsening of atherosclerosis :

Lack of physical activity decreases the resistance of the arteries. Exercise increases the rate of "good cholesterol". Walking, swimming and jogging seem to be the most effective sports to prevent or slow the progression of atherosclerosis.


The extension of the lesions is progressive, and the disorders appear about 40-50 years old, when the critical level of obstruction of the artery is reached (70 to 80%) and that the cells of the organs (yard, brain, Muscles ...) begin to run out of oxygen. The symptoms present in the patient with atherosclerosis are totally dependent on the affected arteries:

  • Coronary arteries: angina pectoris (angina) and myocardial infarction;
  • Cerebral arteries: cerebrovascular accidents (stroke)
  • Obstruction of one or more arteries supplying the brain;
  • Aorta: aortic aneurysm, aortic dissection;
  • Lower limbs: arthritis obliterans of the lower limbs (AOMI);
  • Renal arteries: renal arterial hypertension.

There is a link between high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Whatever its origin, hypertension causes or aggravates atherosclerosis. Conversely, atherosclerosis complicates and aggravates hypertension.

The three main tests that the patient with atherosclerosis must do are:

  1. The questioning which assesses all the risk factors present in the patient
  2. Taking the blood pressure in a sitting position after 10 to 15 minutes of quiet rest;
  3. Peripheral pulse palpation in the neck, groin (femoral artery) and feet (pedic pulse).

This basic test can be supplemented by auscultation of the superficial arterial paths in order to look for a breath, witness of an arterial narrowing. Only the large arteries whose paths are not too deep are accessible for direct clinical examination: aorta, carotids, femoral arteries and legs.


It is necessary to detect individuals who have one or more risk factors (see above) considered a threat to them. It is also necessary to intervene before atherosclerosis manifests. This prevention requires awareness of the fat content of the diet.

The high fiber diet in place of the meat will be beneficial for a person susceptible to atherosclerosis. The continuation of patients and the regular intake of their blood pressure (approximately 25% of adults in our society suffer from hypertension) can reduce cardiac and vascular death.

Tobacco consumption must obviously be reduced.

High pressure is the most important controllable risk factor. The higher the pressure, the greater the risk. Have your blood pressure checked regularly. Some changes to your lifestyle help avoid arteriosclerosis.

healthy diet

A diet high in fiber and low in fat helps maintain the pressure to an acceptable level. Need ideas to add fiber to your plate? Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables! How to reduce your salt intake? Avoid bagged and canned soups and smoked, salted and canned meats. As for fat, reduce the amount used in preparing your meals. In addition to helping prevent arteriosclerosis, applying these simple rules will help you maintain a healthy weight.

Physical activity

Moderate and regular physical activity can help to reduce or even prevent high pressure. Start slowly and gradually increase. Do more activities than you already do. Walk wherever you can and as often as possible.

Stop alcohol and tobacco

An excessive amount of alcohol (more than two drinks per day) can increase your pressure and the risks of arteriosclerosis. As for tobacco, not only does it temporarily increase the blood pressure at each cigarette, but it is a direct risk factor causing arteriosclerosis, increasing the risk of stroke.

Arteriosclerosis is a disease that can kill, so it is necessary to avoid it by regulating our way of life.

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