Hardened Vessels

Hardened Vessels Specialists
Atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries, is a disease in which plaque builds up in your blood vessels, causing them to harden and become narrower. This hardening can cause a variety of serious health problems. In fact, atherosclerosis-related diseases are the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. Dr. David L. Rollins, Dr. Vikram K. Rao, and the first-rate team at Northeast Ohio Vascular Associates (NEOVA) are leaders in the field of atherosclerosis treatment. Located in Willoughby, Ohio, NEOVA serves patients from communities in the greater Cleveland area.

Hardened Vessels Q & A

Northeast Ohio Vascular Associates

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease that develops as plaque, a sticky substance made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances that circulate in your blood, and build up in your arteries. This buildup causes your arteries to harden and become narrower, reducing blood flow and the supply of oxygen to your cells. Many people don’t even know they have hardened arteries until they have a medical emergency, like a heart attack or a stroke.

What are complications of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis isn’t a one-size-fits-all disease: The type of artery that’s affected and how plaque develops varies from person to person. Because hardening of the arteries can affect blood flow to your heart, brain, pelvis, legs, arms, kidneys, or intestines, it can lead to the development of a variety of specific conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease: Plaque in arteries leading to the heart
  • Angina: Chest pain from reduced blood flow to the heart
  • Carotid artery disease: Narrowing of the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain
  • Peripheral artery disease, or PAD: Affects the arteries of your extremities
  • Chronic mesenteric ischemia: Poor circulation to your stomach, liver, colon, and intestine
  • Chronic kidney disease

What should I know about peripheral artery disease (PAD)?

PAD, is a chronic disease that involves hardening of the arteries in your extremities, and most often involves your legs. PAD affects more than 10 million Americans, and although the disease is more common in adults older than 65, it can occur at almost any age. Smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol or triglycerides can increase your risk of developing PAD.

Because PAD puts you at risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or even a limb amputation, treatment is aggressively aimed at preventing complications while slowing or stopping the progression of the disease. This may include:

  • Smoking cessation
  • A heart-healthy diet
  • Surgical procedures: Bypass grafting or stent placement.

What is mesenteric ischemia?

Mesenteric ischemia refers to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries that carry blood to your stomach, intestines, liver, and colon (your mesenteric organs), which impairs their function and can lead to painful, dangerous blockages. The two main types of this condition are:

Acute mesenteric ischemia
Usually caused by a blood clot, acute mesenteric ischemia comes on suddenly, causing severe stomach pain that’s sometimes accompanied by nausea or vomiting. Treatment is usually emergency surgery to remove the clot and restore blood flow to your intestinal arteries.


Chronic mesenteric ischemia
This condition develops over time, and typically comes with severe stomach pain that can last for as long as two hours after every meal. Minimally invasive endovascular treatments are the first-line approach for most cases of chronic mesenteric ischemia; this typically involves putting a stent in the blocked artery to keep it open.  

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