Arteriosclerosis vs Atherosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis vs Atherosclerosis: Differences Between Them

Arteriosclerosis is a disease of the blood vessels, whereas atherosclerosis is accumulation of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the walls of the artery. Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis are sometimes mistakenly used to mean the same condition. In this article, we will consider, arteriosclerosis vs atherosclerosis individually, their causes, symptoms, and treatment of both arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis.


Arteriosclerosis is a general mane for a group of conditions that causes the arteries to lose their flexibility by hardening them. This is due to the loss of the protein elastin, which is responsible for the normal elastic nature of the walls of the arteries.

The hardening of the walls of the arteries makes blood circulation slow, so oxygen and nutrients might not be supplied to them at the time they need it or may not be supplied at all.


There are 5 types of arteriosclerosis and they are dependent on their different causes.
The different types of arteriosclerosis include:

  1. Nonatheromatous Arteriosclerosis: This is. mainly age-dependent. The arteries become hardened due to age-related scarring, also called fibrosis.
  2. Mönkeberg’s Arteriosclerosis: In this case, the walls of the arteries become hard because of calcium deposits in the artery.
  3. Hyaline Arteriosclerosis: The walls of the artery become thick, narrow, and weak. This condition affects small arteries and arteries and leads to blocked blood circulation.
  4. Hyperplastic Arteriosclerosis: This condition is caused due to protein deposits along the way of the artery, which causes the artery to thicken and become narrow. People with high blood pressure are more likely to have this type of arteriosclerosis.
  5. Atherosclerosis: This type of arteriosclerosis is caused by a fatty build-up in the arteries. This clogs the arteries and reduces blood flow.


Most people only get to know they have arteriosclerosis after they have been rushed to the hospital because they had a heart attack or aneurysm.

An aneurysm happens when the walls of the artery weaken, widen and swell.
Some signs and symptoms of arteriosclerosis are:- chest pain- sweating- severe headaches- lightheadedness- blurred vision- arm or shoulder pain- shortness of breath- coughing- leg pain- speech problems


You are more likely to have arteriosclerosis if your blood pressure is high, you have high cholesterol levels in your blood, and if you are diabetic.


Treating arteriosclerosis depends on the type and how severe your condition might be. However, your doctor might recommend certain lifestyle changes such as:

  • Consistent exercise.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Drinking less or no alcohol.
  • Eating diets low in sugar.
  • Fats and Sodium.

Medications may also be prescribed, depending on your type of arteriosclerosis. Medications like:- beta-blockers- diuretics- calcium channel blocker- vasodilators.


Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis caused by plaques that may consist of cholesterol, lipid, calcium, white blood cells, and clumps of platelets, deposited within the lumen, causing the blockage of the artery, and reducing blood flow.

This results in a reduction of the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching the affected part of the body.
Atherosclerosis can lead to further health complications such as coronary heart disease, angina (chest pain), carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, and chronic kidney disease.


The main cause of atherosclerosis remains unknown, however, plaque formation begins when there is damage in the endothelium.

Predisposing factors that can be linked to causing atherosclerosis include:- Obesity- Diabetes – Hypertension- Genetics- High alcohol intake- Smoking- Inflammation like arthritis- High cholesterol levels



Symptoms of atherosclerosis will not appear until you have a clogged artery that can no longer supply blood to your organs and tissues.

Generally, the symptoms are mild and may include:- lightheadedness- vertigo- dizziness- blurred vision
The symptoms depend on which artery is narrowed or blocked.

  1. If your heart arteries are clogged you may experience symptoms like chest pain.
  2. If the arteries in your brain are blocked, you may experience signs of numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs, speech difficulty, temporary loss of vision in one eye, or drooping muscles in your face.
  3. If arteries in your arms and legs are blocked, symptoms like peripheral artery diseases (leg pain or decreased blood pressure) may be experienced.
  4. Atherosclerosis in the arteries of your kidney may make you develop symptoms like developed high blood pressure or kidney failure.


Aside from aging, factors that can make you very likely to have atherosclerosis are:- high blood pressure- diabetes- sleep apnea- genetics- unhealthy diet- smoking- stress- high cholesterol levels- lack of exercise


The focus in the treatment of atherosclerosis is to slow or stop the plaque from depositing in your arteries. Medications and even certain lifestyle changes can help you achieve this.
Your doctor may use more invasive techniques to open your clogged arteries or go around them to aid blood circulation. The techniques are:

Bypass Surgery: For instance, if you have severe coronary artery blockage, your doctor may carry out a coronary artery bypass surgery.
In this procedure, a piece of artery from your leg will be added to your heart’s arterial network, to create a new, strong artery for blood to circulate.

Angioplasty: This is a common atherosclerosis treatment for coronary angioplasty. In this procedure, the surgeon will insert a catheter with a balloon on the end into your artery to open it up.
If atherosclerosis goes untreated, certain complications may arise from it, such as:-

  • Stroke.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease.
  • Heart Failure.
  • Aneurysm.
  • Heart Attack.
  • Angina.
  • Unusual heart rhythm.


Arteriosclerosis is a condition affecting the walls of your arteries, and is usually due to old age, whereas, atherosclerosis is a condition affecting the lumen of the arteries due to the buildup of plaque.


Atherosclerosis occurs majorly as a result of high cholesterol levels and poor lifestyle choices, although arteriosclerosis can be a result of poor lifestyle choices, it is mostly a genetic trait that cannot be changed.


You have come to know the differences between arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis, you should not mistake one for the other. Arteriosclerosis vs Atherosclerosis has been explained in detailed here.

They may have similar symptoms but while that of arteriosclerosis is more pronounced before a heart attack, unlike atherosclerosis, you should, however, always have routine medical checkups for any underlying health conditions and speak with your doctor when you notice any symptoms, because arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis if left untreated, can lead to other health conditions.

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