Fast Five Quiz: Noncoronary Atherosclerosis Signs and Symptoms

Yasmine S. Ali, MD


March 01, 2021

Peripheral vascular disease typically manifests as intermittent claudication characterized by calf, thigh, or buttock pain that is exacerbated by exercise and relieved by rest, which may be accompanied by pallor of the extremity and paresthesias. A patient who presents with limb claudication most likely has a significant atherosclerotic plaque burden in multiple vascular beds, including the coronary and cerebral vessels. Peripheral vascular disease may also manifest as impotence or nonhealing ulceration and infection of the extremities.

Other than peripheral vascular disease, signs and symptoms of noncoronary atherosclerosis that affect different organ systems include:

  • Central nervous system: stroke, reversible ischemic neurologic deficit, transient ischemic attack

  • Peripheral vascular system: intermittent claudication, impotence, nonhealing ulceration and infection of the extremities

  • Gastrointestinal vascular system: mesenteric angina characterized by epigastric or periumbilical postprandial pain. This may be associated with hematemesis, hematochezia, melena, diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, and weight loss; abdominal aortic aneurysm that is typically asymptomatic (sometimes pulsatile) until the often fatal signs of rupture

  • Target organ failure: occult or symptomatic visceral ischemia

Learn more about patient history in atherosclerosis.


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