Atherosclerosis is a condition that happens when the arteries, which are the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the heart and other parts of the body, narrow and harden because of the buildup of plaque (fat, cholesterol, and other substances) in the artery walls. This accumulation of plaque can put blood flow to organs and tissues at risk as the arteries become blocked.
Atherosclerosis is usually considered a heart problem. However, there is a possibility that it may affect any artery in the body. The type of artery affected and where the plaque develops varies from person to person.
Causes and Risk Factors of Atherosclerosis
High blood pressure
Diabetes or insulin resistance
Inflammations caused by Arthritis and Lupus
High alcohol consumption
Staying under a lot of stress
A poor diet (not eating fruits and vegetables and a high intake of trans fats)
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a slow, gradual disease in which symptoms vary greatly depending on which arteries are affected by narrowing, hardening, or blockage.
For example, some symptoms related to the arteries of the heart are
Difficulty in breathing
Chest pain or pressure (angina)
Arrhythmia (unusual heartbeat)
Some symptoms of the arteries that carry blood to the kidneys are
High blood pressure
Some symptoms related to the arteries that carry blood to the brain are
Drooping facial muscles
Constant and severe headaches
Vision problems or temporary loss of vision in one eye
Some symptoms related to the arteries in the arms and legs are
Pain in the leg when walking (claudication)
Atherosclerosis can be prevented, it is treatable, and lifestyle changes are the key.
Improving diet and healthy food consumption
Exercise regularly (at least half an hour per day, five days a week)
If you are overweight or obese, lose weight
Moderate alcohol consumption
When do I need to see a doctor for Atherosclerosis?
In most cases, the noticeable symptoms of Atherosclerosis are present until an artery is already blocked, so visit your Cardiologist regularly for a Check-Up.
When consulting your Cardiologist, try to keep a record of your pain with a detailed description of the symptoms, duration, and what you think triggered them. Also, mention any medications you are taking.
If you think you have Atherosclerosis because you recognize one or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis prevents many medical emergencies.
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