Arteries hardening

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Overview

Hardening of the arteries is a disorder in which the arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from heart to other parts of the body) narrows due to cholesterol deposits, which converts into fibrous tissue and this way appears the arteriosclerosis. As this aterom plaque narrows the lumen (opening from the artery) the oxygen and blood supply to the affected organ is reduced.

Plaque can block the artery pretty bad, causing tissue death irrigation artery, taking place, for example, a heart attack or stroke.


Contents

1. Overview
2. Causes
3. Symptoms
4. Treatment
5. Possible complications
6. Arteries hardening prevention


Causes

Over the years, buildup of plaque narrows the arteries and make them more rigid. These changes slows blood flow through them.

The narrowed arteries can form clots and blood flow is blocked. Pieces of plaque may break and could enter the small blood vessels, blocking them. Following the blockage, tissues are deprived of blood and oxygen, which could result in damage or tissue necrosis. This is a common cause of heart attack and stroke.

If a blood clot reaches in an artery, in the lungs, can cause a pulmonary embolism. In some cases the plaque is part of a process that causes a weakening of the artery wall. This can cause aneurysm. Aneurysms can rupture resulting in bleeding that will be life-threatening for the patient.

Hardening of the arteries is a phenomenon that often accompanies aging. However, high levels of blood cholesterol can make this process to occur at a younger age. Other negative lifestyle factors are alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and the number of extra pounds.

Other risk factors for hardening of the arteries are:

- diabetes
- family history of rigid arteries
- hypertension
- smoking


Symptoms

Arteriosclerosis often has no symptoms until the artery lumen is critically reduced or completely blocked. The symptoms of arteriosclerosis vary and may be different from the lack of events (in early-stage disease), heart attack or stroke (where the critical artery lumen is blocked). Sudden cardiac death could be the first symptom of coronary disease.

Symptoms depend on the location of arteries affected by atherosclerosis. If the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood are affected, the patient may have chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety and sweating. Specific chest pain (angina) or insufficient blood perfusion of muscle blood occurs during exercise and disappears at rest. Rarely, angina can occur during rest and means that the plaque is more unstable and possibly the risk of a heart attack.
If the carotid or vertebral arteries that supply blood to the brain are affected by atherosclerosis, the person may have numbness, weakness, difficulty speaking, swallowing, blindness or paralysis on one side.

If the arteries that supply blood to the legs are affected, the patient might had severe pain feet. The pain occurs mostly when walking and disappears when the patient stops walking (intermittent claudication).

When the disease is severe, pain may occur at rest and / or during the night. If the skin breaks down, the wound can become infected and if it will heal amputation may be necessary.


Treatment

In order to prevent hardening of the arteries you can make the following changes in your lifestyle:

- avoid eating fatty foods. Follow a balanced diet with foods containing less fat and cholesterol. Include several servings daily of fruits and vegetables.
- add fish to your diet at least twice a week, but do not eat fried fish
- try to limit alcohol to one drink per day for women and two per day for men
- exercising at least 30 minutes per day if you aren’t overweight and 60-90 minutes per day if you are overweight
- stop smoking – it could be the most important change that can reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
- check your blood pressure every 1-2 years before age 50 and annually after age 50. Measure your blood pressure more often if you have high blood pressure, heart disease or have had a stroke. Talk to your doctor about it.
- if you have hypertension is important to keep blood pressure under control
- everyone should keep their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg
- if you have diabetes, kidney disease or have had a heart attack or stroke, blood pressure may be less likely, the 130/80 mmHg

Recommendations may depend on:

- age
- presence of heart disease or circulatory problems
- if you smoke or are overweight
- if you suffer from hypertension or diabetes

Your doctor might suggest taking aspirin to prevent blood clots in the arteries. These are called antiplatelet drugs.


Possible complications

Among the possible complications of the condition include:

- abdominal aortic aneurysm
- coronary artery disease
- kidney disease
- mesenteric artery ischemia
- peripheral artery disease
- renal artery stenosis
- stroke


Arteries hardening prevention

Prevention of arteriosclerosis include:

- treatment for high cholesterol
- treatment for diabetes

If you have diabetes need to:

- check blood sugar every day
- keep a journal of your daily results

If you suffer from hypertension should:

- keep a log of results
- follow a healthy diet
- have a diet low in cholesterol
- adopt a diet low in fat
- eat foods that will keep your heart healthy
- stop smoking
- avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
- make exercise a regular basis
- lose weight if you are overweight
- take medicines prescribed by your doctor
- used vitamin B supplements
- avoid alcohol or drink in moderation.

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