Hardening of the arteries is actually an umbrella term which is often used for various different types of medical conditions which involve hardening and thickening of blood vessels inside the human body. The most common of all those medical conditions is the one known as atherosclerosis which is usually triggered by a gradual buildup of plaque on the walls of the arteries. For those who do not know, arteries are actually certain types of blood vessels which are responsible for carrying oxygen rich blood from the heart to all the other parts of the body. Hardening of the arteries is one of the most common causes of death in the United States. Hardening of the arteries can be triggered by various different types of medical conditions, and along with atherosclerosis, the most common ones include arteriolosclerosis and focal calcific arteriosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a medical condition which can be characterized by narrowing and hardening of medium sized and larger blood vessels which include the aorta and the ones which can be found in the legs, brain and the heart. Atherosclerosis is the major cause of hardening of the arteries and it is a gradual buildup of plaque in the walls of arteries. This harmful plaque contains calcium, cholesterol, fat and other harmful substances. As the plaque gradually grows bigger and bigger it may eventually result in restricted blood flow. Focal calcifc arteriosclerosis is another common form of hardening of the arteries and it is characterized by the buildup of calcium in the middle part of the blood vessels. This condition commonly affects the arteries located in the genitals, upper and lower extremes and it may affect both women and men. Due to this medical condition, the arteries become very stiff but the vessels do not get narrow so the blood flow does not get decreased. This medical condition causes problems only when it accompanies the aforementioned atherosclerosis or if it occurs in the aortic valve in the heart. This medical condition mostly affects those who take corticosteroids, those who suffer from diabetes and older people.
Arteriolosclerosis is a certain type of hardening of the arteries which affects the arterioles and the middle and the inside layers of arteries. It mostly affects the arteries located in the kidneys, pancreas, spleen and adrenal glands. If it occurs in the kidneys it often gets accompanied by high blood pressure.
This type of hardening of the arteries is known for affecting the blood vessels located in the pelvis, legs and arms. It is commonly associated with coldness, numbness and claudication.