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What is atherosclerotic disease? Something very dangerous.

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One of the leading culprits that internists, cardiologists, and vascular surgeons have their hands full, is precisely this terrible disease. Numerous medical studies in recent decades have proven that certain life habits, as well as certain diseases, can significantly contribute to the development of cardiovascular damage.

This way of life and the appearance of the first symptoms, most people do not perceive as a threat that suggests the possibility of atherosclerosis, until they reach middle age, and the symptoms start to manifest more strongly. However, the fact is that atherosclerosis can start even in childhood.

In the article that follows, you will read and learn what is atherosclerotic disease, its risk factors, and consequences, as well as tips for the prevention and treatment of this vicious disease.

Here are some quick links to what we’ll cover in this article. If you’re in hurry, or for any other reason, feel free to use the quick links to jump straight to the section you want to read:

What is coronary atherosclerosis?

Today, the degenerative process in human arteries is by far the most common cause of heart and blood vessel diseases.

coronary artery disease health education info graphic

Given that this group of diseases dominates all causes of mortality in most countries, it is quite logical to conclude that successful prevention and treatment of this disease are of the greatest importance for prolonging life.

Coronary atherosclerosis is a chronic disease of the heart and blood vessels in which there is a narrowing due to changes in the layer of the artery wall, and as a consequence, there is a disturbance in the blood circulation.

According to the definition of the World Health Organization (WHO) – In atherosclerosis, the thickened walls of the arteries lose elasticity, and fat and mineral deposits are deposited in them (clogging occurs)

The inner surface of the blood vessels becomes uneven and rough, and the gap (lumen) of the wall narrows, which makes it difficult for blood to flow. This change is called atheroma: it is a “plate” filled with lipids, blood products, connective fibers, and calcium clots.

These plates are irregularly shaped, yellowish in color, solid, uneven, and protrude into the lumen of a blood vessel. Analysis of the content of one atheroma shows that it mostly consists of cholesterol, triglycerides, fatty acid crystals, connective fibers, and calcium lumps.

What are the causes?

This is not completely and definitively clear today, but many years of research have established that risk factors, inherited traits and genetics play the biggest role. When these factors come together, they can greatly accelerate the development of the disease.

elevated cholesterol in blood vessels

Risk factors:

  • Age and gender
  • Family heritage
  • Elevated cholesterol and lipids in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity

Faced with the fact that this disease is difficult to treat, we find a good part of the solution to the problem in the necessary protection (prevention) from it, which is relatively easy to do.

Experts from the Medical School in Houston (Texas) point out that there is more and more data that indicate that the hereditary factor plays a big role in these diseases.

They found that this disease is much more common in families where a member has already had a problem and that even people who do not belong to the risk group often suffer from atherosclerosis solely because of heredity.

It’s especially emphasized that the way in which the human body reacts to fatty foods is not uniform at all, that is, that every person reacts differently. That could be the answer to the question of why some people are more prone to obesity.

Cholesterol

The question has always been asked why a normal ingredient in the body is dangerous and under what conditions.

A new path to this knowledge was opened when a more detailed examination of chemical changes in the body made it possible to distinguish “good” from “bad” cholesterol.

cholesterol affects on atherosclerosis

Analyzes have shown that there are large differences in the level of “normal concentrations” of cholesterol in the blood plasma in the world. The usual normal values ​​are between 200 and 250 milligrams in 100 milliliters of blood, or in the new values ​​from 5.2 to 6.5 millimoles per liter (mmol / L). Cholesterol is found in plasma in several heterogeneous lipoprotein particles, which include triglycerides and some proteins.

The two types of lipoproteins already mentioned playing a major role in the development of atherosclerosis, “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and “good” (high-density lipoprotein).

LDL contributes the most to the development of atherosclerosis because it is built into the walls of blood vessels. And the other, HDL, has a protective role. It penetrates the walls of blood vessels, extracts dangerous cholesterol from them, and plays an important role in healing.

According to the criteria of the European Society for Atherosclerosis, cholesterol is definitely a risk factor in the following situations:

  • HDL is less than 0.9 mmol / L
  • LDL is greater than 4.1 mmol / L
  • LDL is higher than 3.5 mmol / L if there are other risk factors (smoking, obesity, hypertension)

Other factors

Hypertension accelerates the onset of the disease, in fact, it is both the first and most important risk factor.

Smoking causes additional damage to the inner layer of the blood vessel, which narrows the arteries and causes the pulse to accelerate.

Physical activity is very useful because it maintains lower blood pressure, slows down the heart at rest, and in addition increases the value of “good” HDL cholesterol and thus has a protective effect on the heart.

Obesity is a very common risk factor because it is associated with improper and extensive diet, physical inactivity, and all other negative factors.

A simple viral infection with cytomegalovirus can be the first step in a complex process in which arteries become clogged as people age. Numerous scientists are impressed by the data linking atherosclerosis to cytomegalovirus, which belongs to the herpes family.

Those who have had a heart transplant and are infected with this virus, suffer from a very accelerated form of the disease that blocks the arteries in just a few months.

Increased concentration of iron in the blood can also be one of the causes. Although certain amounts of iron strengthen the body, increased concentrations of this metal can endanger the endothelium (inner wall of the artery), which can be a complication that leads to a heart attack. Therefore, controlling the concentration of iron in the blood is advised as necessary.

Emotional stress is something that has attracted relatively little attention from cardiovascular epidemiologists, for the reason that it is much more difficult to analyze than blood pressure or some other cause. However, it has been proven that people who are characterized by aggressive and sudden reactions are more often affected.

What are the consequences?

The appearance of this vicious disease can occur in the arteries of various organs and parts of the body. Atheromas, however, most often form in the heart muscle, brain, legs, and only then in other blood vessels.

Atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries

atherosclerosis stages illustration

The heart is nourished by the system of coronary arteries that surround it in the shape of a wreath, which is why they got their name. There are two main ones, which come out of the initial part of the aorta, the left, and the right.

Since the left main stem of the left artery divides into two main branches after a short journey of about 2.5 cm, it is correct to say that there are 3 main coronary arteries:

* front descending
* semicircular (circumflex)
* right

These 3 main trees are divided into a whole series of small branches that penetrate the heart muscle.
The disease of these arteries can be without any symptoms for a long time.
Coronography or imaging showed that in 40% of patients with angina pectoris, atherosclerosis occurs in all 3 branches, in another 40% in 2, and in 15% in only one branch. In the remaining 5%, coronography shows no significant disease.

9 terrible consequences

1. Angina pectoris, a disease accompanied by constant chest pain

2. Myocardial infarction, when due to the complete cessation of blood flow in the artery, the heart muscle tissue dies

3. Weakness of the heart muscle, because atherosclerosis causes poor nutrition of the same, and the strength gradually weakens

4. Cardiac arrhythmia, where due to lack of oxygen certain parts of the heart muscle become excessively irritable, which affects the occurrence of accelerated or irregular work

atherosclerosis symptoms

5. Sudden cardiac death, which occurs due to trembling (fibrillation) of the heart chambers

6. Disease of the artery of the brain, leads to thrombosis of blood vessels, which results in severe brain damage, all the way to coma and deprivation.

7. Disease of the lower limbs and abdominal aorta, in which there is a weaker blood flow in the legs, which are cold and pale, and patients most often complain of pain in the leaves and lower legs. All this is accompanied by gait disturbances, and these patients are threatened by gangrene of the feet.

8. Renal arteries disease in which there is damage to small blood vessels, arterioles. This phenomenon is called arteriosclerosis.

9. Retinal blood vessel disease is a disease of the fundus and is mainly seen in people with high blood pressure.

 

Prevention

1. Strict diet – The food you eat should contain calories that correspond to the type of physical work and age of a person.
Vegetable fats must be present more than animal fats in order to avoid an increase in the value of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.

Research has shown that one of the thinnest tissues in the body – the inner wall of the blood vessel (endothelium) is the primary source of heart disease. Because, when it is in a normal state, the blood vessel dilates and contracts properly, and the blood flow is normal. If due to excess fat – cholesterol in the vessels, this balance is disturbed, a spasm occurs, which results in a heart attack.

Sunflower oil

It’s today considered the most suitable oil in the treatment, ie as a diet, due to the large proportion of linoleic acid and its very favorable relationship with alpha-tocopherol. In addition, this oil is chemically stable and can be stored in the usual packaging for up to a year.
The European Society for Atherosclerosis also proposes a higher intake of plant fibers, fruits, and vegetables in the diet.

blood flow through the vessel

2. Alcohol intake is prohibited

3. No smoking

4. Weight loss

5. Physical activity – a preventive measure that should never be neglected or even forgotten. It has a preventive effect in two ways: fast consumption of calories and rapid breakdown of platelet clots.

Depending on age and habits, it can be applied in several ways. A daily walk from half an hour to an hour is enough, which is especially important for the blood vessels of the legs because the vessels expand. If the patient catches a spasm during this physical activity, it is advisable to rest, then continue for a shorter distance, and then rest again.

6. Treatment of diabetes with insulin or oral means and diet is necessary for every diabetic, considering the frequency of damage to large and especially small blood vessels.

7. Examination of the fundus and blood vessels of the legs is advised at least once a year

 

Medications

There are quite a few of them today. But before taking them, it is necessary to take care that the patient does not suffer from any other disease, as well as not to use any other drugs in order to avoid side effects and side effects.

Some of the best drugs that prevent the aggregation (deposition) of platelets on the walls of blood vessels are
Aspirin, Trental i Persantine.

Study and effects

A study conducted among 22,000 doctors in the United States and about 5,000 doctors in the United Kingdom, who took 300 milligrams of aspirin every other day, reduced the incidence of heart attacks in about 50% of cases in 5 years of follow-up.

Drugs for which the therapy is quite long and which are more difficult to tolerate are Cholestipol, Boluzin, Cinelip, Clofibrate (Atrimidine), and Statins stand out as the most effective from this group.

Unlike previous therapeutic approaches, which meant that drugs were received only when the disease appeared, now, based on new opinions, drugs are recommended even before the disease occurs. This is the basis of the so-called metabolic therapy of atherosclerosis, which has proven to be quite successful.

The effect of these drugs is based on reducing the size of atherosclerotic plaques and their hardening, so that they become more resistant to cracking and thus prevent more serious consequences. This group of drugs includes Lovastatin, Simvastin, Zokor and Cholipam.

That’s it!

We hope this helped you learn what is an atherosclerotic disease, what are factors of risks, causes, consequences, and how to prevent all that.

One more thing…

Since prevention is the most important, then you may want to check our articles about the best heart-healthy diet or key tips on how to save your heart.

And if you are looking for more ways to improve your heart health, you should check our other great Majota Blog posts.

Also, if you have any questions or feel that there is some other important information we have not listed, feel free to leave a comment, it will mean a lot to us and we will be grateful for it.


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2 thoughts on “What is atherosclerotic disease? Something very dangerous.”

  1. Hi…what a fascinating read! Such a detailed, yet easy to read article about atherosclerotic disease. I appreciated the way you broke it down into easy to read sections. I actually had no idea that a high iron level in the blood or even a common virus such as cytomegalovirus were common culprits. I recently went through heart surgery with my dad and wonder if some of those issues might have been part of why he had his health issues. It’s scary stuff! I knew some of these risk factors but it was helpful to learn a bigger picture. Thanks for shedding light on a dangerous condition that affects so many people!

    1. Hi Lee.

      First of all, thank you very much for your kind words and praise, it really means a lot to us. Yes, we try to gain the attention and trust of our visitors who want to be informed, learn many new things, and, as you say, get a broader and bigger picture of the topic with a detailed description, photos, and a story about each topic we raise. with heart health as well as health in general.
      We are really sorry for the situation you went through with your father, we believe it was very scary.

      Thank you again, and we cordially greet you and wish you all the best.

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