Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of plaque a mix consisting of fat, cholesterol, calcium and blood elements both inside and outside the arteries’ walls.
The arteries in your body are blood vessels that transport an oxygen-rich blood supply from the heart into yours. If they get narrowed and stiffened because of plaque buildup, blood flow to organs and tissues could be reduced, causing signs and symptoms or even tissue damage.
The words “atherosclerosis” and “arteriosclerosis” are frequently used interchangeably. However, atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis (commonly known as the hardening of the arteries) caused by plaque accumulation.
Atherosclerosis can be a problem for any of your blood vessels in the body. If the arteries that connect to your heart get damaged, this condition is called coronary artery disease (CAD).
Signs and Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
Many patients with atherosclerosis don’t have any symptoms, which is especially true when their condition isn’t severe.
However, if the narrowing and stiffening of the arteries stop blood from getting to specific body parts, signs are likely to develop in these areas.
The most prevalent signs of atherosclerosis are blood circulation limited to your heart and limbs, the brain or kidneys.
The area(s) affected the signs and symptoms of atherosclerosis can be:
Pain in the chest ( angina)
Insomnia or weakness legs or arms
The pain in the leg during walking (claudication)
Signs of high blood pressure or kidney disease
Causes and Risk Factors of Atherosclerosis
The precise reasons behind atherosclerosis aren’t well understood.
There’s evidence to suggest that it could be the result of damage to the lining inside your blood vessels (known by the name of endothelium), in which plaque builds typically up.
These reasons could cause the damage:
Smoking and other forms of tobacco use
The presence of high levels of fats and cholesterol are found in the blood.
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Blood sugar levels are elevated.
Inflammation resulting from arthritis Lupus, infections, or any other disease
Atherosclerosis is a risk factor. the following conditions of health:
The high levels of LDL (” bad” ) cholesterol
A low level of HDL (“good”) cholesterol
High blood pressure
Diabetes (or prediabetes)
Being overweight or obese
Inactivity and lack of physical fitness
An unhealthy diet
Heart disease is a family trait that has a history in the blood.
In men, the chance for atherosclerosis rises after the age of 45. For women, this risk increases at the age of 55.
Your risk of being diagnosed with atherosclerosis increases if your father or sibling was diagnosed as having heart issues before age 55or your mother or sibling had a heart attack before age 65.
Additionally, research suggests that elevated levels of a C-reactive Protein (CRP) in your blood could increase the risk of atherosclerosis. CRP is a marker for inflammation within your body.
How Is Atherosclerosis Diagnosed ?
To determine if you have atherosclerosis, the doctor will take into consideration your medical history and symptoms in addition to examining your body and require specific tests.
The most commonly used tests to help identify atherosclerosis include :
Testing for blood Your doctor can test the blood levels of cholesterol and the stories of triglycerides and your blood glucose (sugar) when prediabetes or diabetes is present or suspected.
Tests for Blood Pressure The doctor you see may measure your blood pressure at different points on your arms and legs, and this can assist in measuring blood flow and reveal obstructions. A specific Ultrasound instrument (Doppler ultrasound) could be used to do this.
Coronary Angiogram This test involves inserting a narrow, long tube (catheter) through an artery and stretching it to the heart. Then, you inject the dye visible on X-ray images to show the blockages within your coronary arteries.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) This test measures the electrical activity within your heart, and it could detect a heart rhythm issue or an earlier heart attack.
Duration of Atherosclerosis
The time it takes for atherosclerosis to manifest from person to.
In certain people, atherosclerosis can develop quickly as they enter their thirties. For others, it does not grow to a large extent until one is in their 60s or 70s or even older.
If you have atherosclerosis, it is more likely to worsen over time. It is possible to prevent this by adjusting the risk factors that lead to it.
You might be able to stop or reverse the progression of atherosclerosis with the help of medication, exercise and weight loss, as well as a heart-healthy lifestyle as well as other lifestyle modifications.
Treatment for Atherosclerosis
The method of treatment the physician suggests for atherosclerosis will be in the first place based on the severity of the condition and the arteries that are affected.
The treatment of the condition can be crucial in cases where it is found that blood flow towards the brain or the heart is significantly reduced.
The most effective treatments for atherosclerosis are lifestyle changes, prescription medications, and surgical techniques.
Lifestyle changes are typically the first treatment recommended and may help even if you require other therapies.
Treatments for atherosclerosis could lower blood pressure, increase unhealthy cholesterol levels and lower the risk of developing potentially dangerous blood clots.
Surgery is generally only recommended in cases where your condition is severe, or you do not respond well to treatment with drugs.
Your physician may prescribe medications to treat various factors or causes of atherosclerosis.
Cholesterol Medicines These medications comprise statins and fibrates intended to reduce your total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
Antiplatelet Treatments These medicines, including aspirin, lower your chance of developing a potentially dangerous blood clot that can stop an arterial.
Blood Pressure Medications These drugs, some of which may also relieve chest pain, include beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.
Pain Medicines If you are experiencing leg pain during activity, Your doctor might advise that you take an over-the-counter painkiller or suggest something more powerful.