Atherosclerosis – Causes, Symptoms and Management

Overview

Atherosclerosis is a chronic cardiovascular disease characterised by the gradual buildup of fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances on the inner walls of arteries. Over time, this plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, reducing blood flow and potentially leading to serious complications such as heart attacks and strokes. Lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, physical inactivity, and genetic predisposition contribute to its development. Managing risk factors and adopting a healthy lifestyle are key to preventing and managing atherosclerosis.

The medical issue can cause multiple health problems such as chest pain, numbness in legs and arms, difficulty speaking, vision problems, and drooping of face from one side. Such issues disturb the routine life of the affected patient. Simple lifestyle changes can help one to recover soon, and in case of severe issues, surgery can also help to lower the harsh symptoms.

Causes of Atherosclerosis

    • Family History of the Disease- Studies have proved that a family history of heart disease increases the risk of an individual developing artery issues. Though the exact issues may not transfer through genes from one generation to the other, the same lifestyle and environment around an individual increases the risk of getting affected.
    • Diabetes– Diabetes is always accounted as a host for multiple health issues. An individual suffering from diabetes is also prone to different health problems than a healthy being. High blood sugar makes blood gush through the arteries and veins, carrying blood from the heart to other body parts. The high force of blood damages the lining of the arteries.
    • High Cholesterol– High cholesterol is another cause of damage to the arteries. The condition causes fatty deposits and other waste to accumulate in the artery walls and damage the arteries. The deposition causes hardening and narrowing of the arteries, making blood flow harder.
    • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)– High blood pressure can damage the inner lining of arteries, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup.
    • Diabetes– Poorly managed diabetes can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
    • Smoking– Smoking damages blood vessels and promotes the formation of plaque.
    • Inflammation– Chronic inflammation can lead to arterial damage and plaque formation.
    • Obesity– Excess body fat and an unhealthy diet are associated with higher atherosclerosis risk.
    • Lack of Exercise– Physical inactivity can contribute to obesity and increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
    • Stress– Chronic stress may indirectly contribute to atherosclerosis through unhealthy coping behaviours.

Symptoms of Atherosclerosis

  • Chest Pain (Angina): Reduced blood flow to the heart can cause chest pain or discomfort, known as angina, typically during physical activity or emotional stress.
  • Shortness of Breath: Atherosclerosis in the arteries supplying blood to the lungs can lead to shortness of breath.
  • Numbness or Weakness: Decreased blood flow to the brain due to carotid artery disease can result in transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or strokes, leading to numbness, weakness, or difficulty speaking.
  • Leg Pain: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) can cause pain, cramping, or leg weakness, particularly during exercise.
  • Kidney Problems: Atherosclerosis affecting the renal arteries may lead to high blood pressure or kidney failure.
  • Memory and Cognitive Issues: Reduced blood flow to the brain can affect cognitive function and memory.
  • Abdominal Pain: Blockage of arteries supplying the abdominal organs can cause abdominal pain, especially after eating.
  • Fatigue: Generalised fatigue can occur due to reduced blood flow and oxygen delivery to various organs.
  • Slurred Speech– When fatty deposits accumulate in the arteries directed towards the brain, the affected individual may face different types of issues such as slurred speech, visionary problems, partial drooping of facial muscles, and other similar problems.

Management of Atherosclerosis

    • Medications– The primary cause of atherosclerosis is underlying medical problems. Curing them is the first line of treatment followed by the doctors. Medications to cure blood pressure problems, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, antiplatelet agents and thinning blood to avoid blood clotting are prescribed by doctors.
    • Revascularization Procedures: In severe cases where arteries are significantly blocked, procedures such as angioplasty (with or without stent placement) or bypass surgery may be necessary to restore blood flow.
    • Lifestyle Changes– Healthy and supportive lifestyle changes help lower clogged arteries’ blockage. Healthy foods such as healthy fruits and vegetables, lowering ill habits such as smoking and drinking, and exercising for a few minutes a day are some healthy habits that help lower the damage caused by the issue.
    • Healthy Weight- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight to reduce strain on the cardiovascular system.
    • Regular Monitoring- Undergo regular medical check-ups and screenings to assess your risk factors, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

When to Consult a Doctor

You can also get in touch with the expert cardiology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.

Conclusion

Atherosclerosis is a disease of the artery caused by the clogging of arteries caused by fatty and waste deposits. It also happens due to the thickening or narrowing of arteries. The issue can be resolved with the help of medications, surgeries, or helpful lifestyle changes.

FAQs

Q. What is Atherosclerosis?
A.
It is a disease of the arteries leading to thickening and narrowing of arteries and fatty deposits in the arteries blocking blood flow.

Q. What are the symptoms of Atherosclerosis?
A.
Chest pain, difficulty speaking, drooping of muscles on one side, and pain in legs and arms are some symptoms observed due to clogged arteries.

Q. What are the causes of Atherosclerosis?
A.
Factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, inflammation, genetics, obesity, inactivity, stress, age, and gender primarily cause atherosclerosis.

Q. What medications are prescribed for atherosclerosis?
A. Medications prescribed for atherosclerosis are-

    • Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs: Statins and other medications can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
    • Blood Pressure Control: Antihypertensive medications may be prescribed to manage high blood pressure.
    • Antiplatelet Agents: Aspirin or other antiplatelet drugs can reduce the risk of blood clot formation.
    • Blood Sugar Management: For individuals with diabetes, tight blood sugar control is essential to prevent complications.

Reference Links

    • https://www.narayanahealth.org/blog/atherosclerosis-causes-symptoms-and-risk-factors/
    • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350575
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