Vascular conditions in women are mostly diagnosed after age 45. The most common is hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. This condition causes plaque to form along the walls of the arteries, which can negatively affect blood flow. Early diagnosis and ongoing treatment are key to managing symptoms and lowering other health risks.
What Causes Hardening of the Arteries in Women?
After menopause, a woman’s chance of developing atherosclerosis increases. The leading cause is age, though the precise link between menopause and atherosclerosis isn’t known. The leading theory is that as estrogen levels decrease, protection against heart disease lowers, which can lead to plaque buildup.
There is a greater risk of developing atherosclerosis if you are overweight or obese, smoke, have diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), or have a family history of cardiovascular artery disease.
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
If you notice any of these signs, consider scheduling an appointment with a vascular surgeon for testing.
- Chest pain (angina)
- Feeling as though your heart is racing or skipping (palpitations)
- Shortness of breath
- General weakness
- Leg pain or numbness
Testing for atherosclerosis involves specialized imaging to get a picture of the heart and arteries. Cardiac catheterization is the process of inserting a thin tube into the arteries, injecting a harmless dye, and taking an X-ray to see how it flows. Obstructions reveal blockages, narrowing, and any other abnormalities.
Other testing options include a Doppler sonography, which involves sending sound waves to the heart and seeing if there are faint or absent reverberations. A lack of echoes indicates potential blockages.
Your vascular doctor will determine the most appropriate diagnostics procedures for you and your health.
Get Treated by Experts at the Vascular Institute of Virginia
The VIV has a location in Fairfax, Fredericksburg, and Woodbridge. You can request an appointment online, send a message, or call 703-763-5224 to speak with the staff.
The specialized team at the Vascular Institute of Virginia is always here to help.