Atherosclerosis: Symptom and Causes


Most symptoms of atherosclerosis do not show until a blockage occurs. Common symptoms include:
  • Chest pain (angina) or discomfort
  • Pain in the leg, arm, and anywhere else that an artery is blocked
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion (if the blockage affects circulation to the brain)
  • Muscle weakness in the legs from lack of circulation
  • Perspiration
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs


The exact cause of atherosclerosis isn’t known. Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease that may start in childhood. It develops faster as you age.
Atherosclerosis may start when certain factors damage the inner layers of the arteries. These factors include:
  • Smoking and other sources of tobacco
  • High amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • High amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes

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