What's atherosclerosis? It is a degenerative disease that affects the arteries of medium and large caliber. On the internal walls of the arteries, accumulations of fibrous tissue and lipids are created. They are the so-called atheromas or atheromatous plaques and / or fibroadipose.
The Greek root atero means mush. Small small thickening of the wall of the vase can be realized but also more serious and complex pictures. Over time, in fact, the plaques can grow, compromising the elasticity of the vessel wall and obstructing the blood flow inside it.
The artery can become obstructed, resulting in peculiar signs of ischemic suffering depending on the characteristics of the different organs or tissues. What are the risk factors? Some are constitutional, such as old age or genetic factors.
Others are potentially controllable, such as hypertension, smoking, high blood cholesterol, diabetes. Among the factors favoring the development of lifestyle-related cardio and cerebrovascular diseases, smoking is probably the most potent.
Carbon monoxide and nicotine, in particular, are mainly responsible for the negative effects on arterial vessels: the walls of the arteries stiffen, blood pressure rises, the process of formation of atherosclerotic plaques is accelerated.
Tissue oxygenation is reduced. Quitting smoking has numerous benefits, some practically immediate: within the first 2 hours there is a normalization of the heart rate and an improvement in blood pressure values.
The risk of cardiovascular disease decreases 1 year after the last cigarette; after 15 years the risk is equal to that of a non-smoker.
How to fight the insidious shop window syndrome
In technical jargon, claudication intermittens, is called window syndrome, characterized by crampy pain in the legs while walking, which forces you to take frequent breaks, taking for example the excuse of looking at the windows in the shops.
Intermittent claudication is the typical symptom of peripheral arterial disease, a condition that affects up to 20% of people over 60. It is a frequent pathology in elderly, diabetic, hypertensive, smokers, with high blood cholesterol values and in those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
In peripheral arterial disease, atherosclerosis causes the arteries of the lower limbs to narrow: blood flow is reduced. In the early stages, pain or cramps in the calf, thigh or buttock typically occur after a certain amount of walking, which tend to subside with rest.
This symptomatology is often neglected, minimized, traced back to the ailments of age. In the more advanced stages, pain occurs even when not walking, at rest, and can be accompanied by ulcers and gangrene. Diagnosing and recognizing obliterative arterial disease of the lower limbs early is very important, as it is shown that affected individuals have a significantly increased risk of contracting cardio and cerebrovascular diseases.