Atherosclerosis comes from the Greek words athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (hardness). It is the name of the process in which the deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This build-up is called plaque; it usually affects large and medium arteries. Plaques can grow large enough to reduce the flow of blood through an artery, but most of the damage occurs when they become fragile. Plaques build blood clots that can block the flow of blood or break it off and go to another part of the body. If either a blood vessel that feeds the heart is blocked, that causes a heart attack. If a blood vessel that feeds the brain is blocked, so we are facing a stroke. If the supply of blood to the arms and legs is reduced, that can lead to gangrene.
Arteriosclerosis occurs after a period of time during which the arteries of the cardiovascular system develop hard and brittle areas. Vessels become thickened, a loss of elasticity will affect the arteries of the cardiovascular system, the brain, and kidneys upper and lower extremities, this occurs because of the deposition of calcium on their walls. Arteriosclerosis differs from atherosclerosis, which involves the build-up of fatty deposits in the inner lining of large and medium-sized arteries. Atherosclerosis often leads to coronary heart disease, strokes, and other disorders because of the occurrence of blood clots built in the narrowed arteries. The hardening of the arteries, on the other hand occurs only in advanced stages. A third form of the disease is arteriolar sclerosis which involves both the inner and medial layers of the smaller arteries in the limbs, the eyes, and other internal organs. This condition causes a decreased blood flow to these tissues which can create circulatory problems, peripheral vascular disease, impaired circulation to the eyes and kidneys causing blindness and kidney failure. Arteriosclerosis not only narrows the arteries but it also forms nodules in the arterial walls and entirely obliterate the canal of the artery.
The causes of Arteriosclerosis:
High cholesterol level: Low-density lipoprotein is the major cholesterol carrier in the blood. Elevated LDL levels are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery (heart) disease. When you have a high cholesterol average in the blood, it builds up on the walls of the arteries. Over time this build-up will cause the hardening of the arteries, hardening means that the arteries become narrowed and the flow of blood to the heart becomes limited. The blood carries oxygen to the heart. If the heart does not receive the quantity needed of Oxygen, you may feel chest pain. If the flow of blood supplied to certain parts of the heart is cut off, by a blockage, the result is a heart attack. When the average of cholesterol in the blood is high the patient will be facing a high risk of having heart diseases. This would make the high blood cholesterol level a risk factor. A Risk Factor is a condition that increases the risk of having a disease.
Smoking: Cigarette and tobacco smoke, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and obesity are the six major independent risk factors for coronary heart disease that you can modify or control. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by itself. When it acts with other factors, the risk will be dangerous. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypassing a surgery. Cigarette smoking is the most dangerous risk factor for young men and women. It produces a greater relative risk in persons under the age of 50. Women who smoke greatly increase their risk of coronary heart disease and stroke compared with non-smoking women. Smoking also creates a higher risk for peripheral arterial disease and aortic aneurysm.
Physical inactivity: Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for developing arteriosclerosis. The arteriosclerosis is characterized by the deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the inner lining of arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. It also contributes to other risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, a low level of HDL ("good") cholesterol and diabetes. Even moderately intense physical activity such as brisk walking is beneficial when done regularly for a total of 30 minutes or longer on most days.
Signs and symptoms:
The specific signs and symptoms depend on which arteries are affected. For example:
Sometimes the hardening of arteries causes erectile dysfunction to men.
How to avoid Arteriosclerosis?
Controlling blood pressure: hypertension increases the risk of having arteriosclerosis and heart attacks. It is especially dangerous because it often has no warning signs or symptoms. Regardless of race, age, or gender, anyone can develop high blood pressure. A high percentage of health care practitioners now recommend nutritional and wellness lifestyle changes as the first line of defence to prevent hypertension and to treat mild to moderate High Blood Pressure.
Quit smoking: smoking cigarettes is one of the most dangerous risk factors causing arteriosclerosis and heart attacks.
Loose weight: you should maintain a healthy weight for your height. Obesity causes unfavourable changes in the serum lipoprotein levels.
Practice sports: Begin a moderate exercise program. Walking daily is a great way to start.
Currently there aren't any definitive tests or screening methods to easily detect arteriosclerosis, so many people do not know if they are affected with this disorder, so you may follow blood tests and detect if you have any of the symptoms of arteriosclerosis. You should moderate your life style in order to avoid arteriosclerosis and other heart diseases.
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