Atherosclerosis: What You Need to Know
Wondering what causes atherosclerosis and what you can do avoid this deadly condition? Read on to find out!
The Main Causes of Atherosclerosis Explained
Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of heart disease and blood vessel damage throughout the body.
Find out the meaning of atherosclerosis and what the best treatments are.
What is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is the hardening of the arteries as a result of build-up of fatty material and other substances inside the arterial walls.
Arteries are a type of blood vessel that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to where it is needed in the body. Blood vessels are like hose pipes with a central channel through which blood is pumped by the heart. The walls of the channel are very elastic, ensuring they can expand to allow more blood through the channel.
Atherosclerosis inside the arteries happens gradually over decades. Fatty deposits in blood vessels are known as plaques or atheroma. The plaques are mostly made up of cholesterol and triglycerides, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood).
As the fatty deposits build up and the plaques grow, the arterial walls thicken and lose their elasticity, thereby hardening, causing narrowing of the channel which blood flows through. This reduces the amount of blood flowing through the vessels, decreasing the oxygen and nutrients that can be supplied to cells for energy.
This can be particularly dangerous if the flow of blood through the coronary (heart) or cerebral (brain) arteries is restricted or reduced. Plaques can also break open which can trigger the formation of a blood clot. Such a blood clot can break off the arterial wall and travel to smaller vessels, blocking or completely stopping blood flow through.
Atherosclerosis is the underlying condition that causes:
Atherosclerosis: The “Silent Disease”
Atherosclerosis typically has no symptoms, besides angina in some cases, until it becomes very severe or causes a heart attack or stroke.
You are at risk of atherosclerosis if you have:
What is the Best Prevention and Treatment of Atherosclerosis?
Medications prescribed for atherosclerosis must be used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle behaviours, and can include statins to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and anti-platelet and anti-coagulant therapies to reduce the risk of blood clots forming.
You can read more about Cardiovascular Disease and how to live healthily with these conditions here.