What is Atherosclerosis?
Your arteries are the carriers of blood from your heart to all the parts of your body. Generally, these arteries are flexible and elastic. But in atherosclerosis, your arteries become thick and stiff. Atherosclerosis refers to the building up of fats, cholesterol, etc. inside your arteries, forming plaques. These plaques could restrict the flow of blood by narrowing your arteries. Sometimes, the plaques could also rupture and burst, forming a blood clot. Even though it is a cardiac problem, an artery in any part of your body could be affected by atherosclerosis. This condition is both treatable and preventable.
Depending on which artery is blocked, there could be various complications arising from atherosclerosis
- Coronary artery disease - When the plaques build up in the arteries near the heart, it leads to coronary artery disease. This may lead to chest pain and heart attack.
- Carotid artery disease - When the plaques are closer to your brain, it is called carotid artery disease. This may lead to a stroke.
- Peripheral artery disease - When the plaques are developed in the arteries of hands and legs, the condition is referred to as peripheral artery disease. This disease could lead to insensitivity to heat and cold and in extreme cases, gangrene.
- Aneurysms - An aneurysm is a bulge in the walls of the artery and can happen anywhere in the body.
- Chronic kidney disease - If the plaques grow in the arteries that are near the kidney, they decrease the quantity of oxygenated blood that reaches the kidneys. Over a period of time, this could lead to complications in your excretory system.
What are the symptoms of Atherosclerosis?
Because atherosclerosis develops gradually, symptoms do not get displayed until the situation gets worsened and complicated. It might result in an inadequate supply of blood to organs and tissues. Symptoms also depend on:
- The location of the affected artery.
- Heart pressure in the chest and chest pain
- Brain -numbness and weakness in arms and legs, slurred speech, drooping facial muscles, and temporary loss of vision in one eye
- Arms and legs - Leg pain during physical activities
- Kidneys - High blood pressure or kidney failure
What is the cost for the treatment of Atherosclerosis in India?
Which specialty of doctor is to be consulted for the treatment of Atherosclerosis in India?
- Cardiologist is to be consulted for the treatment of Atherosclerosis in India.
Which hospital is to be preferred for the treatment of Atherosclerosis in India?
- Medanta - The Medicity hospital in India is to be preferred for the treatment of Atherosclerosis in India.
1. What is the cause of Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is thought to begin with a small damage or injury caused to the thin inner layer of an artery called endothelium. The causes could be:
- High amount of triglycerides
- High cholesterol
- Consumption of tobacco
- High blood pressure
- Obesity or diabetes
- Arthritis, lupus, infections and other inflammatory diseases
2.What are the risks factors associated with Atherosclerosis?
Major risk factors associated with Atherosclerosis are:
- Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels
This includes high LDL cholesterol (sometimes called "bad" cholesterol) and low HDL cholesterol (sometimes called "good" cholesterol).
- High blood pressure
Blood pressure is considered high if it stays at or above 140/90 mmHg over time. If you have diabetes or chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher.
Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels, raise cholesterol levels, and raise blood pressure. Smoking also doesn't allow enough oxygen to reach body tissues.
- Insulin resistance
This condition occurs if the body can't use its insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps move blood sugar into cells where it's used as an energy source. Insulin resistance may lead to diabetes.
With this disease, the body's blood sugar level is too high because the body doesn't make enough insulin or doesn't use its insulin properly.
- Overweight or obesity
The terms "overweight" and "obesity" refer to body weight that's greater than what is considered healthy for a certain height.
- Lack of physical activity
A lack of physical activity can worsen other risk factors for atherosclerosis, such as unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes, and overweight and obesity.
- Unhealthy diet
An unhealthy diet can raise your risk for atherosclerosis. Foods that are high in saturated and Trans fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and sugar can worsen other atherosclerosis risk factors.
- Older age
With the increase in age, risk for atherosclerosis increases. Genetic or lifestyle factors cause plaque to build up in arteries with ageing. By the time you're middle-aged or older, enough plaque has built up to cause signs or symptoms. In men, the risk increases after the age of 45. In women, the risk increases after the age of 55.
- Family history of early heart disease
Your risk for atherosclerosis increases if your father or a brother was diagnosed with heart disease before 55 years of age, or if your mother or a sister was diagnosed with heart disease before 65 years of age.
3. What are the possible ways to prevent Atherosclerosis?
4. How is atherosclerosis treated?
Treatments for atherosclerosis may include heart-healthy lifestyle changes, medicines, and medical procedures or surgery. The goals of treatment include:
- Lowering the risk of blood clot forming
- Preventing atherosclerosis-related diseases
- Reducing risk factors in an effort to slow or stop the buildup of plaque
- Relieving symptoms
- Widening or bypassing plaque-clogged arteries
Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Doctor may recommend heart-healthy lifestyle changes if you have atherosclerosis. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include heart-healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, physical activity and quitting smoking.
Doctor may recommend heart-healthy eating, which includes:
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as skimmed milk
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and trout, about twice a week
- Fruits, such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and prunes
- Legumes, such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
- Vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and carrots
- Whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, and corn tortillas
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can lower risk for coronary heart disease. Knowing body mass index (BMI) helps in finding out a healthy weight in relation to height and gives an estimate of total body fat.
- Below 18.5 is considered underweight.
- Between 18.5 and 24.9 is in the normal range.
- Between 25.0 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
- A BMI of 30.0 or higher is considered obese.
A general goal is to aim for a BMI of less than 25. Doctor or health care provider can help set an appropriate BMI goal.
Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve emotional and physical health. Consider healthy stress-reducing activities, such as:
- A stress management program
- Physical activity
- Relaxation therapy
- Talking things out with friends or family
Regular physical activity can lower many atherosclerosis risk factors, including LDL or "bad" cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight. Physical activity also can lower risk for diabetes and raise HDL or "good" cholesterol, which helps prevent atherosclerosis.
If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels and raise risk for atherosclerosis. Take advice of doctor about programs and products that help in quitting. Also, try to avoid passive smoking. If you have trouble quitting smoking on your own, consider joining a support group. Many hospitals, workplaces, and community groups offer classes to help people quit smoking.
Sometimes lifestyle changes alone aren't enough to control cholesterol levels. For example, one may also need statin medications to control or lower cholesterol. By lowering blood cholesterol level, one can decrease chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Medical Procedures and Surgery
Patients with severe atherosclerosis may require a medical or surgical procedure.