Table of Contents
- Causes of Atherosclerosis
- Plaque Attacks and Atherosclerosis
- Who Gets Atherosclerosis?
- Prevention of Atherosclerosis
- Treatment of Atherosclerosis
Arthrosclerosis is the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. It is known to have a lot of bad press of arteries but for good reasons. In this particular case slowly the arteries become narrow and as a result blood flow stops. It is known to be the cause of peripheral vascular disease, strokes and heart attacks. All of these are included in cardiovascular disease and is the leading cause of death in America.
Causes of Atherosclerosis
The blood vessels which carry blood from your heart and then transfer it to the body are called arteries. They are equipped with thin layer of endothelium cells. The function of endothelium is to keep the arteries smooth and toned. This in turns helps in the flow of the blood.
The atherosclerosis originates by the damage of the endothelium due to irregular increase in the blood flow level, high cholesterol level and smoking. The damage results in the form of plaque.
Whenever the cholesterol passes the endothelium, it enters in to the walls of the arteries. This will cause the white blood cells to digest the LDL. With passage of time this accumulating cholesterol become plaque and block the walls of the arteries.
Plaque is nothing else then jumble cholesterol, debris creating bump in the arteries and cells as well. With the advancement in atherosclerosis the bump grows and become a heap. At that time it reaches to a position that it blocks the flow of blood. The process spreads throughout the body. So not only your heart is at risk but you may be at a risk of severe stroke and other related problems.
Atherosclerosis is one of those diseases which show no symptoms until at the middle stage or at older age. As the narrowness of the arteries become sever it results in choke off blood and induce severe pain. In some cases these blockages cause rupturing of the arteries and blood clot may be formed at the site where rupture occurs.
Plaque Attacks and Atherosclerosis
The plaque that is formed due to atherosclerosis can behave in several ways.
- Plaque can stay in the arteries. Initially the plaque is moving and grow but at certain stage it stops. At this stage the plaque doesn’t interfere with the flow of the blood so no symptoms appear.
- Plaque grow in a controlled way in to the path way of the blood flow. But it can block significantly the flow of blood. Pain is the usual symptom.
- The case is worst when rupture occurs when blood clot inside the artery. In brain it results in stroke, and in heart it cause heart attack. The atherosclerosis plaque cause three different kinds of diseases.
- Coronary Artery Disease: This happens when plaque become stable and cause angina i.e. chest pain. As a result sudden plaque causes rupture and heart muscle die. This condition is called heart attack.
- Cerebrovascular Disease: The rupture plaque in the arteries of the brain initiates the stroke and as a result permanent brain damage occurs.
- Peripheral artery Disease: It is the narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the legs and results in poor circulation. The consequences are severe pain during walking and problems in wound healing.
Who Gets Atherosclerosis?
The atherosclerosis is known to start at the early stage. In the autopsies of fresh American soldiers during war in Korea and Vietnam almost three quarters were proved to have atherosclerosis. Today most of the asymptomatic young individuals have atherosclerosis.
- Almost 52% individuals have some atherosclerosis.
- More than 85% individuals with age above 50 have atherosclerosis.
- Almost 17% teenagers have atherosclerosis.
No individual having atherosclerosis develop any kind of symptoms and very few have narrow arteries. This can only be detectable through special tests. At the age of 40 if you seem to be healthy meanwhile you have 50% chance of atherosclerosis in the upcoming years. The risk is more with the growing age. Majority of the people above 60 have atherosclerosis but have no symptoms. But a good news is that the death rates are fallen below 25% since 30-35 years ago.
Prevention of Atherosclerosis
It is known that atherosclerosis is a progressive disease but at the same time it is preventable. Nine factors are known to be controlled to get out of the effects of atherosclerosis.
- Avoid smoking
- High level of cholesterol
- Irregularly high blood pressure
- Control diabetes
- Control your abdominal obesity at moderate level
- Avoid stressful conditions
- If you think that you have atherosclerosis then eat fruits and vegetable
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Do exercise regularly
The physicians advice that if you succeed in reducing the factors then you will be at lower risk of getting cardiovascular diseases.
It is important to note that in those individuals who have a stroke are at a risk of atherosclerosis taking the common baby aspirin will be helpful.
Treatment of Atherosclerosis
Once the artery blockage occur it will stay over there. With the use of medications and changes in the life style you can stop the growing plaque.
- Changes in Lifestyle:regular exercise, no smoking and healthy diet can prevent the growth of plaque. These changes don’t remove the plaque but they help in controlling the already formed plaque.
- Medication: the medicines which help to reduce the cholesterol level and to control the blood pressure will help you to slow down the growth of plaque and minimize the risk of having atherosclerosis.
- Stenting and Angiography: the angiography performed for coronary arteries and the catheterization is also done against atherosclerosis. A thin tube is inserted either in the arteries of the arm or leg to reach in to the arteries where the blockage occurs is advisable and is often done to cure the atherosclerosis.
- Heart Bypass surgery:a healthy artery either from the leg or arm is used to bypass the damaged artery. But this is associated with some complications. So avoid this if other treatments work better.
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