Atherosclerosis is one of the major underlying causes of cardiovascular diseases, related with high morbidity and mortality. Atherosclerosis is a multifactorial inflammatory disease affecting predominantly intimal and medial layers of large and middle-sized muscular and elastic arteries. The term “atherosclerosis” consists from two parts reflecting the nature of lesions: “ather” – “porridge” indicates soft lipid-rich lesion and “sclerosis” describes presence of fibrous component. The hallmark of atherosclerosis is an accumulation of lipids in intima with subsequent recruitment of inflammatory cells and gradually developed narrowing of artery’s lumen.
Risk factors for atherosclerosis can be classified into:
I. Correctable and non-correctable (sex (male), age and genetic predisposition).
II. Main (arterial hypertension, atherogenic dyslipidemia, smoking and diabetes mellitus) and secondary (sedentary life-style, obesity, stressful environment, incorrect diet, excessive alcohol consumption, systemic low grade inflammation, hyperhomocysteinemia, sleep disturbances, etc.).
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis develops gradually. Mild atherosclerosis usually doesn’t have any symptoms.
You usually won’t have atherosclerosis symptoms until an artery is so narrowed or clogged that it can’t supply adequate blood to your organs and tissues. Sometimes a blood clot completely blocks blood flow, or even breaks apart and can trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Symptoms of moderate to severe atherosclerosis depend on which arteries are affected. For example:
If you have atherosclerosis in your heart arteries, you may have symptoms, such as chest pain or pressure (angina).
If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to your brain, you may have signs and symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, temporary loss of vision in one eye, or drooping muscles in your face. These signal a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which, if left untreated, may progress to a stroke.
If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries in your arms and legs, you may have symptoms of peripheral artery disease, such as leg pain when walking (claudication).
If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to your kidneys, you develop high blood pressure or kidney failure.
• Coronary artery disease
• Carotid artery disease.
• Peripheral artery disease
• Chronic kidney disease
The same healthy lifestyle changes recommended to treat atherosclerosis also help prevent it. These include:
Eating healthy foods
Maintaining a healthy weight
Just remember to make changes one step at a time, and keep in mind what lifestyle changes are manageable for you in the long run.
By: Amma Adutwumwaa (Medical Student)
Vitebsk State Medical University,Belarus