Atherosclerosis is a well-known cardiovascular disease. It is the buildup of plaque, fats, cholesterol, and other unhealthy substances lining the walls of the arteries. This process slowly and silently puts blood flow at risk. Atherosclerosis causes the arteries to harden, increasing the risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.
The majority of the symptoms for atherosclerosis are not noticeable until damage has been done. If you see your physician regularly, then you may be able to catch it early on. Once there is an artery blocked and plaque has formed, you will start to notice a physical change in your health and body. The most common symptoms of atherosclerosis are:
- shortness of breath
- muscle weakness
- chest pains
- pain and tightness in the legs, arms and other spots where the arteries can be blocked
- Confusion if the blockage severely affects the circulation to your brain.
Atherosclerosis starts when damages to the endothelium occur. The endothelium is a thin layer of cells, which works to keep the inside of your arteries toned and smooth. When your arteries have a clear pathway it keeps the blood flowing properly. Damage to the endothelium is caused by high blood pressure, smoking, or high cholesterol. All of these things leads to the formation of plaque in the artery walls. When bad cholesterol or LDL enters the damaged endothelium, it allows the bad cholesterol to enter the walls of the artery. That’s when the cells become plaque in the walls of the arteries.
- High cholesterol
Your doctor will determine if you have atherosclerosis based off of your family history, medical history, physical exams, stress test, and overall test results. Your doctor may even do a diagnosis test for a more accurate result. A diagnosis test may also help your doctor figure out how severe the disease is and figure out the best plan for treatments. If you do have atherosclerosis, your primary care physician or family practitioner may handle your diagnosis. Your doctor may also recommend a health care specialist, such as a cardiologist and or a vascular specialist to provide the best treatment for you.
Reducing your lifestyle risk factors is the best way to treat atherosclerosis. Once there is any blockage in the arteries it will end up staying there, which is why lifestyle changes are extremely important in this case.
- Starting a healthy eating plan filled with more fruits and veggies is the best thing that you can do.
- Exercise is also a very important factor as well. Working out a minimum of three times a week is enough to help make a turnaround. Also giving up smoking is one of the best things to do to get your arteries back to good health.