Coronary Stenosis and Coronary Sclerosis

Coronary vessels can become narrowed and hardened by deposits.

These processes are called stenosis and sclerosis. Find out what distinguishes them and how they can be prevented here.

What is coronary stenosis?

The term "coronary stenosis" is used to describe the narrowing of coronary arteries. In coronary heart disease, deposits of fat and calcium, called plaques, accumulate on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. These specialised vessels supply the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. If the vessel is narrowed by plaques and the blood flow is obstructed, the heart muscle can be damaged. This can cause the symptoms of coronary heart disease, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating and nausea.

What does coronary sclerosis mean?

Coronary sclerosis, or arteriosclerosis, refers to the hardening of blood vessels. Fat and calcium residues not only adhere to the inner wall of coronary vessels, but can also be deposited in the wall of the vessels. In both cases, the vessels lose their elasticity.

Diseased vessels are more susceptible to inflammation, for example through micro-injuries or infections. Even small areas of inflammation in these modified vessels can cause parts of the fat and calcium deposits to detach, leaving a small wound inside the vessel. Platelets circulating in the blood close this defect up by clumping on top of it. This can cause a blood clot, also called a thrombus. This thrombus can be swept away from the rough surface of the diseased vessel. Then it can often block smaller vessels, possibly leading to a heart attack.

To prevent this, many patients are prescribed so-called antiplatelet drugs. These prevent the formation of a blood clot. For more information about these and other medications, see the page on drug therapy.

How can stenoses and scleroses be treated?

Both stenoses and scleroses can be treated with angioplasty. Angioplasty involves attempting to repair a narrowed vessel, and possibly inserting a stent to keep the vessel permanently open. The different angioplasty procedures are described in more detail in the article on cardiac catheter procedures. In the case of severely affected vessels, it may even be necessary to create a surgical bypass.

Stent insertion

One of the ways to treat the consequences of vessel deposits seen in coronary stenosis and sclerosis is to insert a stent. You can find out how this works here.