Diseases of the arteries

Arteries supply all organs of the body with vital oxygen-rich blood. Therefore, diseases of the arteries can lead to a dangerous malfunction of the affected organs and body parts.

In the course of life, calcification and clotting of arteries (arteriosclerosis) affects a large section of our population due to widespread risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking and high blood fats. Arteriosclerotic narrowing and occlusion of arteries are the causes of stroke, heart attack, and peripheral arterial disease of the legs. Reduced blood flow to the legs causes a typical pain in the muscles while walking (claudication). In the worst case, peripheral arterial disease may cause pain already at rest, chronic wounds and ultimately even the loss of the limb.

In some patients arteriosclerosis can lead to the dilation of arteries due to weakening of the vessel wall. This vascular disease is called “aneurysm” and affects most frequently the abdominal aorta.  If unrecognized and untreated, aortic aneurysms can lead to the very dangerous rupture of the artery.

Besides arteriosclerosis there are many other less frequent causes of arterial disease. For example, arteries may be occluded by a washed up blood clot (embolism), an injury, infection or an autoimmune inflammation of the arterial wall (vasculitis).