Heart Disease Home > Atherosclerosis Symptoms

After an artery is severely narrowed or completely blocked, atherosclerosis symptoms often develop. If the coronary arteries are affected, symptoms may include chest pain or shortness of breath. If the arteries that supply the brain are affected, symptoms may include sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body. Symptoms of atherosclerosis may also result from clogged or blocked arteries in the legs, arms, pelvis, or kidneys.

Atherosclerosis Signs and Symptoms: An Overview

Also known as hardening of the arteries, atherosclerosis is a condition that results from the slow buildup of plaque on the inside walls of the arteries. As the plaque builds up, it can cause serious health problems, such as heart attack, angina, and sudden death. A person's particular symptoms will depend on which part of the body is not receiving enough blood and oxygen due to the narrowing of arteries. These symptoms take some time to develop, as the disease must progress to the point where an artery is severely narrowed or completely blocked.
Common locations for narrowing and hardening of the arteries to occur include the:
  • Heart
  • Brain
  • Legs, pelvis, or arms
  • Kidneys.

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis in the Heart

If the arteries that supply the heart with blood (called the coronary arteries) are affected, you may have symptoms that include:
  • Chest pain or chest discomfort (angina)
  • Pain in one or both arms, the left shoulder, neck, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Faster heartbeats
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Abnormal heartbeats
  • Feeling very tired.
In some people, the first symptom is a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery becomes blocked, most commonly by a blood clot.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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