There is no single test to diagnose atherosclerosis. Therefore, in order to help make an atherosclerosis diagnosis, your healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam, looking for signs and symptoms of the condition.
Your healthcare provider will also recommend certain tests and/or procedures to identify atherosclerosis or its complications. Your doctor uses your physical exam results, your risk factors, family history, and your symptoms to decide which test or tests to order.
(Click Atherosclerosis Diagnosis for more information.)
Treatment OptionsAtherosclerosis treatment will vary for each patient. Everyone diagnosed with atherosclerosis will need to undergo lifestyle changes. Depending on the severity of the condition, these may be the only changes that need to be made. For more serious conditions, treatment for atherosclerosis may include medications or certain procedures.
(Click Atherosclerosis Treatment for an in-depth description of how this condition is treated.)
Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease that may start in childhood. As mentioned, it can affect the arteries of the brain, heart, kidneys, and the arms and legs. As plaque builds up, it can cause serious diseases and complications. These include:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Sudden death
- Cerebrovascular disease, such as a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a "mini stroke"
- Peripheral arterial disease (PAD).
Diseases caused by atherosclerosis are the leading cause of illness and death in the United States.