Atherosclerosis – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Atherosclerosis – Causes, Symptoms, Treatments Atherosclerosis ( or arteriosclerotic vascular disease) is a condition where the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to an excessive buildup of plaque around the artery wall. The disease interrupts the flow of blood around the body, leading to serious cardiovascular complications . Arteries contain what is called the endothelium, a thin layer of cells that keeps the artery smooth and allows blood to flow easily.

Atherosclerosis begins when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing LDL cholesterol to build up in the artery wall . The body sends white blood cells from macrophages to clear the cholesterol, but sometimes the cells get stuck in the affected spot. Over time, this results in the formation of plaque, consisting of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) and macrophage white blood cells. The plaque blocks the artery , stopping the flow of blood around the body. This potentially causes blood clots that can result in life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disease .

Causes of Atherosclerosis:

Atherosclerosis is caused by white blood cells from macrophages and fats accumulating in the arteries – white blood cells are originally sent by the body’s immune system to clean out pockets of LDL cholesterol.

When they cling to an artery they secrete a molecule called netrin-1, this prevents the normal migration of macrophages out of the arteries . As a result, what you’re left with is a mixture of pockets of cholesterol and white blood cells, this is the plaque that can disrupt blood flow.

Certain factors that can damage the inner area of ​​the Artery (endothelium) and can trigger Atherosclerosis include:

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis:

A symptom is something the patient feels and describes, such as pain, while a sign can be detected by others, such as a rash. The first signs of atherosclerosis can begin to develop during adolescence, with streaks of white blood cells appearing on the artery wall . The symptoms of the disease depend on which arteries are affected.

The carotid arteries supply blood to the brain, when the blood supply is limited, patients may experience a stroke and may experience:

  • Weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • face numbness
  • Paralysis

Treatments for Atherosclerosis:

Those who are at risk of developing atherosclerosis will likely be told by their doctor to change their lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight. In some cases, treatment may include medication or surgery.

  • Lifestyle changes – The changes will focus on weight management, physical activity and a healthy diet. Your doctor may recommend eating foods rich in soluble fiber and limiting your intake of saturated fats, sodium, and alcohol. You can read more information about what a healthy diet is here.
  • Medication – Your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent plaque from forming or to help prevent blood clots (anteplatelets). Other medications, such as statins, may be prescribed to lower cholesterol and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to lower blood pressure.
  • Surgery – Severe cases of Atherosclerosis can be treated by surgical procedures such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

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