Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries — the blood vessels that carry nutrients and oxygen around your body — due to a build-up of plaque. Plaque is formed in the arteries due to a combination of cholesterol, and calcium developing over time, which is why atherosclerosis typically develops as people become older. The build-up that results from this plaque can cause a lot of severe problems due to blood flow being inhibited, which in turn causes a shortage of blood and oxygen throughout the body. There’s a lot more to atherosclerosis, which is why we cover some interesting basics in this article — read on to stay informed!
Treatment of Atherosclerosis
Due to the problems associated with atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries, regular tests for some may be required to determine whether there’s a problem before real issues develop. Tests may include the use of an ankle brachial index doppler (a device used to find blockages in arms or legs by comparing the respective limb blood pressure), a simple blood test to check cholesterol levels or more complex methods such as an electrocardiogram (also known as an ECG or EKG), which is used to find areas of decreased blood flow in the heart through the measurement of electrical activity. Getting these tests can be important as an individual ages, as the development of atherosclerosis becomes quite common as people become older. If the previously mentioned tests find an example of atherosclerosis in someone’s body, there are many treatment options available to manage the plaque build-up. If someone has atherosclerosis and it goes untreated, it can eventually lead to life threatening issues such as heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.
The development of atherosclerosis is generally sped up through a poor diet maintained over a long period of time. High cholesterol is one of the chief problems that leads to atherosclerosis, as high levels in the blood can eventually solidify and clog your arteries around the heart and other organs. In order to prevent high cholesterol from becoming a problem, it’s important to maintain a diet that is rich in high quality natural and whole foods. These include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean chicken and fish, reduced fat dairy and healthy vegetable oils, such as olive oil. Sugar and salt can also exacerbate issues with atherosclerosis, so avoiding desserts and drinks with a high sugar content, in addition to salty snacks is very important. Although you might be fine practicing the same diet over much of your life, atherosclerosis can become a problem as you become older due to your heart and blood vessels weakening and needing to work much harder to pump blood around the body.
Atherosclerosis Risk Factors
There are many factors involved when determining atherosclerosis risk factors — some, like family history, cannot be helped, while there are many other risk factors that people at risk should be aware of. This includes a lack of exercise (due to not adequately exercising of your heart), existing high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. By staying aware of these and being tested more regularly, you stand a much greater chance of managing atherosclerosis symptoms should they emerge.