Atherosclerosis Treatment

What Is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a condition that results from a buildup of cholesterol and fats, also known as plaque, in the artery walls. The plaque hardens in place along the walls of the artery. This buildup causes the arteries to narrow and restricts blood flow.

Plaque can also break off and lead to the development of a blood clot, which can occur anywhere in the body. Blood clots are dangerous because they can get stuck in a narrow artery, blocking blood from reaching organs. In a coronary artery, a blood clot can cause a heart attack: in a cerebral artery, it can cause a stroke. 

In addition to dangerous blood clots, atherosclerosis can lead to several conditions, including:

While atherosclerosis is a serious medical condition, it can be treated. If the condition leads to PAD, it can restrict blood flow to the legs. When this occurs, you may experience pain in your legs and a loss in your mobility. At USA Vascular Centers, our treatment goals are to alleviate pain from symptoms and improve mobility through minimally invasive methods. Talk to a vascular specialist to understand how our treatment can help. 

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How is Atherosclerosis Diagnosed?

A vascular specialist will perform a physical examination and check medical history. To make an accurate diagnosis of atherosclerosis, they can order testing, which may include any of the following.

  • Blood tests to check levels of cholesterol
  • ECG or EKG to evaluate electric signals of the heart
  • Exercise stress test to measure increased heart rate from exercise
  • Echocardiogram to see how well blood moves through the heart
  • Doppler ultrasound to measure blood pressure along the arm or leg
  • Ankle-brachial index to determine if atherosclerosis is in the leg

How is Atherosclerosis Treated?

Atherosclerosis treatment is a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and procedures. Lifestyle changes are helpful to reduce the cholesterol and fats that build up as plaque, but should be made as part of a complete treatment program after consulting with a vascular specialist. Recommended lifestyle changes may include the following:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight or lose weight if needed
  • Sustaining a healthy blood pressure
  • Supporting healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels

A doctor may prescribe medications to slow down the progression of atherosclerosis. These medications may include:

  • Statins and other medications for cholesterol
  • Blood thinners
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Medications to control diabetes and high blood pressure 

If your atherosclerosis has progressed, putting you at risk of developing blood clots, treatment may be needed in addition to lifestyle modifications and medication. At USA Vascular Centers, we offer minimally invasive procedures that can improve circulation in arteries affected by atherosclerosis. 

Atherosclerosis Treatment Options

The vascular doctors at USA Vascular Centers specialize in non-surgical treatment for PAD, which is primarily caused by atherosclerosis. They will consider the location and severity of your atherosclerosis before recommending a personalized treatment plan. Our doctors perform the following procedures to improve circulation in arteries blocked by atherosclerosis: 

  • Angioplasty: With this procedure, a tiny catheter with a balloon at the end is used to open up the affected artery. A stent is placed in the artery to keep it open. 
  • Stent placement: Similar to angioplasty, a catheter is inserted using x-ray imaging to place a stent in the narrowed artery to open it up and improve blood flow.  
  • Atherectomy: This procedure removes the blockage in the artery using a laser or tiny blade on the end of a catheter. The catheter rotates, shaving and collecting the plaque for removal. 

Atherosclerosis Treatment Guidelines

At USA Vascular Centers, all our atherosclerosis treatment options are minimally invasive and performed as outpatient procedures. After resting briefly after your procedure, you will be able to go home. Our procedures have a short recovery period: we recommend holding off on strenuous activities or heavy lifting for about a week afterward, but otherwise you can return to your normal routine. 

Our doctors are specially trained in the advanced imaging technologies used in our procedures, and will take the time to answer all your questions about the procedure so you know in advance what to expect. We believe our patients deserve quality, personalized care, so we’ll also provide an ongoing care plan for recovery and maintaining your health after recovery.  

Consult with a USA Vascular Specialist 

If you have been diagnosed with atherosclerosis, you can get the care you need to prevent it from causing serious health conditions like PAD. USA Vascular Centers provides minimally invasive treatments that can relieve arteries narrowed by atherosclerosis. Our vascular specialists will work with you to develop a personal care plan to help you reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Schedule today or give us a call at 888.773.2193 to visit a specialist at one of our more than 40 centers across the country. 

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Timely detection and treatment of PAD can improve the quality of your life; help you keep your independence and mobility; and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, leg amputation, and even death.

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