What is Atherosclerosis

What is Atherosclerosis?

What is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a condition characterized by the formation of plaque inside the arteries, which are blood vessels responsible for transporting oxygen-rich blood from the heart to various parts of the body. Plaque is composed of substances like fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other elements found in the blood. This buildup of plaque occurs gradually over many years, causing the arteries to lose their elasticity and become narrowed. As a result, the flow of oxygen-rich blood to organs and tissues is reduced.

Considered an epidemic affecting almost everyone, atherosclerosis typically begins in young adults and becomes more prevalent with age. While the exact cause is not fully understood, certain factors increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis, including:

– Family history of atherosclerosis
– High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood
– Hypertension (high blood pressure)
– Smoking and alcohol consumption
– Male gender
– Diabetes
– Obesity or overweight
– High-fat diet
– Race
– Sedentary lifestyle

Atherosclerosis can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, stroke, or death. It can affect various arteries in the body, including those supplying blood to the heart, brain, arms, legs, pelvis, eyes, and kidneys. Depending on the arteries involved, different problems may arise:

– Coronary Heart Disease (CHD): Plaque buildup in the coronary arteries can lead to CHD, a leading cause of death in both men and women. CHD can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack due to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle.
– Carotid Artery Disease: Plaque buildup in the carotid arteries, which supply blood to the brain, can cause stroke if blood flow is reduced or blocked.
– Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): Plaque buildup in arteries supplying blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis can lead to symptoms such as numbness, pain, and ulcers in the limbs.

Treatment for atherosclerosis involves lifestyle changes, medications, and medical procedures. Lifestyle modifications, along with appropriate treatment, can help prevent complications and deaths from atherosclerosis-related diseases.