what is Arteriosclerosis?
rteriosclerosis is one of the most common cardiovascular diseases, affecting tens of millions of Americans. the disease involves a gradual narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which reduces blood flow to various parts of the body. this can lead to higher blood pressure in your vessels and an increased risk for strokes because it can pinch off or narrow an artery that carries oxygen-rich blood to your brain
Arteriosclerosis is a condition where plaque builds up inside your arteries, making them narrower and less supple over time. The narrowing prevents blood from flowing through as easily as it should (a condition called "blood clots") which increases the likelihood for vascular events like heart attack or stroke.
1. angina- chest pain usually present in the center of the chest
2. Shortness of breath
3. Numbness or tingling sensations in arms or legs
4. Pain in the shoulder blade area (Tennis elbow)
5. Numbness or tingling sensations in the fingers and toes (Raynaud's)
6. Fatigue, Depression, Nausea, Loss of Appetite
Arteriosclerosis is believed to develop as a result of years of increased blood pressure, lack of exercise, smoking and high cholesterol levels.
AS is caused by atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries") which results in narrowed or blocked arteries that lead to decreased blood flow.
the main causes of atherosclerosis are:
1. smoking- Smoking causes the walls of your arteries to thicken with cholesterol - atherosclerosis is accelerated when smoking.
2. binging on alcohol - drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time can also cause atherosclerosis.
3. having high blood sugar and low blood sugar levels (diabetes)
4. high cholesterol levels - Cholesterol is a fat deposited inside your arteries, especially in the walls leading to your heart and brain. High levels can cause atherosclerosis as well as stroke and cardiovascular disease .
5. High blood pressure - causes your arteries to harden, narrow and eventually clog.
6. genetic predisposition- some people are genetically predisposed to AS and may develop the condition when exposed to one or more of the above causes.
7. being overweight - extra weight around your midsection can contribute to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and atherosclerosis since these diseases usually occur in obese individuals .
8. lack of exercise- physical inactivity allows cholesterol to build up on the walls of your arteries and increased blood pressure that damages the inner lining of the arteries- both conditions lead to atherosclerosis. Lack of exercise can also cause arthritis as well as sleep apnea and snoring.
9. Aortic Stenosis - a narrowing of the aorta, the artery that carries all the blood from your heart to your body, including your brain. This blockage can increase pressure within the arteries and create conditions exactly like arteriosclerosis, especially atherosclerosis .
10. Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) - this condition is congenital in children and occurs when abnormal connections between arteries and veins form in their brains or spinal cord. AVMs occur when arteries are abnormally dilated or absent and may develop into AVMs if other complications don't arise from them (like arteriosclerosis).
11. Coronary Artery Disease - this occurs when your blood vessels that supply blood to your heart (called coronary arteries) become narrow and clogged, causing a myocardial infarction.
12. Diabetic Cardiomyopathy - this type of heart disease is caused by diabetes and is characterized by enlarged ventricles in the heart.
13. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy - this disease occurs when there's a problem with the heart muscle, it causes the chambers to increase in size and makes them stiffer than usual so that blood cannot pump out of the heart as efficiently as it should- this leads to lack of blood supply to the rest of your body.
14. Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) - PAD occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries that supply blood to your legs and feet so they swell, become irritated and painful, usually beginning in your feet.
15. Rheumatic Fever - this disease is caused by strep throat and is characterized by inflammation of your heart muscle, as well as fever and pain.
16. Stroke- a stroke happens when the blood supply to an area of your brain is interrupted, either through a blood clot or bleeding in the brain.
17. Thrombosis - this disease occurs when a clot forms in one of your heart's arteries that carry blood throughout the body, usually caused by smoking or staying seated for long periods of time (instructed by traveling).
there are two main tests used to evaluate arteriosclerosis: the carotid Doppler Ultrasound and the Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE). In both of these tests, a tiny probe is inserted into your neck and then moves around in your body to examine blood flow.
if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes or atherosclerosis , chances are that you most likely have AS.
1. Diet and exercise - a proper diet will reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol levels and help you lose weight. exercising at least four times a week can lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
2. Medication - if diet and exercise are not enough to treat your condition, your doctor may prescribe medication to help control high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes or heart pain .
3. Coronary artery bypass surgery - this is used when a patient's arteries are severely clogged of if they are at risk of other complications like an aneurysm or stroke .
4. Endarterectomy - this is used to remove the plaque that has built up on the inner wall of your arteries and restore normal blood flow.
in 2010, a study was conducted by the University of Pittsburgh that involved heart scans on 1239 people, who were divided into five groups according to their cholesterol levels. The results showed that there was a linear relationship between familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) and arteriosclerosis .
1. Stop smoking- smoking increases your risk of developing stroke and cardiovascular disease as well as atherosclerosis .
2. Exercise regularly- physical activity is one of the strongest tools you can have against atherosclerosis .
3. Stay at a healthy weight- being overweight gives you more heart, lung and liver problems because your body has to work harder just to do the same amount of exercise as someone at a healthy weight.
4. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables and lean proteins - these foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that decrease the development of artery disease . Keep in mind that these foods contain high levels of saturated fats.
5. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption - drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time can increase your risk for developing arteriosclerosis .
6. Wear seatbelts and bike helmets - wear a seatbelt when driving to prevent injury from hitting the dashboard if you are in a collision, wearing a helmet when biking decreases your risk for head trauma, which also increases your risk for arteriosclerosis .
6. Limit the amount of sodium you consume- too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which increases your chances of developing cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis .
7. Get your cholesterol levels checked- if you are at a high risk of cardiovascular disease or have other associated conditions like diabetes or heart disease , it is highly recommended that you get these tests done as early as possible.
8. Treat any underlying conditions that you may have- address any existing diseases like diabetes or high blood pressure .
9. Make smart dietary choices- try to eat a diet that is low in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol and trans fats and high in fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens), fish and whole grains. stay away from processed foods and foods that contain high amounts of salt, sugar or saturated fat.
10. Live a stress free life- avoid things that make you anxious or upset and focus on maintaining a positive outlook on life free from stress or anxiety .