Arteriosclerosis

ateriosclerosis chest pain

Overview of Arteriosclerosis

The global incidence rate of cardiovascular diseases is quite alarming at present. According to the global estimates by the World Health Organization, about 17.3 million deaths are reported annually due to heart diseases. They have also predicted that this count may rise to 23.6 million by 2030. Earlier, heart diseases were associated with old age only. But in the recent years, small children and young adults have also been diagnosed with heart diseases.

Arteriosclerosis is a disease belonging to the above category which affects mainly aged people belonging to any gender or ethnicity. However, the frequency is slightly higher in men, particularly the ones above 60. At present, arteriosclerosis is one of the major contributors to global mortality and morbidity.

 

What is arteriosclerosis?

Arteriosclerosis is defined as the thickening, hardening and a subsequent loss of elasticity of the arterial walls. This gradually leads to a sluggish flow of blood through the arteries, which in turn leads to a reduced supply of blood to the different organs and tissues of the body. This gives rise to a condition of ischemia. In most cases, arteriosclerosis is precipitated by the formation of plaques, cholesterol and other fatty materials on the walls of the arteries. Systemic diseases, senility and certain other environmental and dietary factors lead to the disease.

 

What are the causes of arteriosclerosis?

The primary cause of arteriosclerosis is the formation of plaques on the inner sides of the arterial walls. These plaques may be made up of cholesterol or other fatty substances. Cholesterol is an integral component of the cell membrane which regulates several physiological mechanisms in the human body and also forms the basis of certain essential hormones. The normal concentration of cholesterol in the body should be less than 200 mg/dL. The following types of cholesterol are commonly studied-

  • Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Normal value less than 130 mg/dL
  • High density lipoprotein cholesterol: Normal value less than 44 mg/dL in male and 55 mg/dL in female
  • Very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: Made up of triglycerides and small amounts of cholesterol and protein
  • Triglycerides: Obtained from both plant and animal food sources. Normal value is between 90-150 mg/dL.

Arteriosclerosis cloggedA rise in the levels of any of the above forms of cholesterols may eventually progress to arteriosclerosis. This condition may arise from any of the following factors-

  • High cholesterol intake through regular diet
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Diseases like Diabetes, Nephrotic syndrome, and Pancreatitis
  • A complete lack of physical activities
  • Being overweight increases the levels of VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides

Apart from cholesterol, certain other diseases that lead to arteriosclerosis are as follows-

  • Smoking: Active or passive smoking for a long period of time has been found to damage the walls of the blood vessels severely. This increases the risks of fat deposition. Smoking also lowers the concentration of good cholesterol or High-Density Cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure or hypertension can badly damage the arterial walls and catalyze the deposition of fat.
  • Type 2 Diabetes: In this condition, the sugar levels in blood shoot up. Chronic high blood sugar condition can lead to arterial constriction and extremely sluggish flow of blood.
  • Heredity: A history of arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis can predispose an individual to similar conditions before the age of 55.

 

Pathophysiology of arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis is characterized by the formation of lesions on the innermost layer of the wall of the blood vessel, also called the intima. With time, the lesions on the intima get filled with toxic cellular wastes. Different forms of arteriosclerosis result when these lesions and deposits mature with time. At times, arteriosclerosis is confused with atherosclerosis. But the two are very much distinct.

Atherosclerosis is a condition marked by the constriction of the arteries resulting from plaque formation. These plaques are made up of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, fibrin, and calcium. This mainly affects the large and the medium-sized arteries. Arteriosclerosis has more or less similar clinical characteristics. But the main difference with atherosclerosis is that it affects only the smaller arteries and the arterioles that transport essential nutrients and blood to the cells.

 

What are the main signs and symptoms of arteriosclerosis?

The main signs and symptoms of the disease are as follows-

  • Numbness of the facial and the lower limb muscles
  • General body weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulties in speech
  • Problems in vision
  • Inability to perform activities that might cause exertion

In the very initial stages, the symptoms manifest themselves only after stress or exertion. But in the more progressive stages, even minimum activities can lead to the aforementioned conditions.

 

What are the main types of arteriosclerosis?

Clinically, arteriosclerosis is of two types namely- Hyperplastic and Hyaline. These are discussed below-

Hyperplastic arteriosclerosis: This type of arteriosclerosis affects mainly the large and the medium-sized arteries.

Hyaline arteriosclerosis: In this condition, lesions form due to the deposition of hyaline (a substance having a glassy appearance) in the smaller arteries and arterioles. Depending on the site of occurrence, it is of two types-

  • Arterial hyalinosis
  • Arteriolar hyalinosis

Another type of arteriosclerosis has been identified which is known as Monckeberg’s Arteriosclerosis. It is also known as medical calcific sclerosis and occurs mainly in the lower extremities. This condition is more prevalent in adults.

 

Diagnosis, treatment, & prevention

The diagnosis of arteriosclerosis can be carried out by the following tests-

  • Physical examination
  • Blood test
  • EKG

The most appropriate way to manage atherosclerosis is a healthy diet and physical activity. However, some cases might require treatment by medications and surgery.

Medications

Arteriosclerosis arteries

  • Cholesterol medications– lowering the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, can impede, stop or even reverse the build-up of the fatty deposits in the arteries. Increasing the levels of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also known as the good cholesterol, can also help to counter atherosclerosis. Certain medications such as statins and fibrates can be administered to lower the cholesterol levels. Statins also help in help stabilizing the lining of the heart arteries and thereby prevent atherosclerosis.
  • Beta-blocker drugs- These drugs lower your heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the stress on the heart and help in relieving symptoms of chest pain. They also reduce the risk of heart attacks.
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors- These medications lower blood pressure interfere with the hormone that constricts the blood vessels and thereby reduce the load on the heart. They also reduce the risk of recurrent heart attacks.
  • Calcium channel blockers- They are used to treat angina (in some cases) and they lower blood pressure.
  • Diuretics (water pills) – They are administered to enhance the expulsion of water and salts from the body in the form of urine. They help in treating high blood pressure.

Surgical procedures

Surgical procedures are performed in grave conditions such as severe blockages. Some of the surgical procedures are angioplasty and stent placement, endarterectomy, fibrinolytic therapy, bypass surgery etc.

Prevention of atherosclerosis is mainly by lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, intake of a balanced diet, maintaining healthy body weight, managing stress and by quitting smoking.

 

Facts

  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is responsible for the highest number of deaths of males and females in the United States. It kills more than 370,000 individuals in a year.
  • Every year approximately 735,000 Americans have a heart attack out of which around 525,000 have it for the first time.

Facts

  • In the United States, about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year–which comes to around 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Around half of the Americans(47%) have at least one of these three risk factors for heart disease (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking).

Facts

  • On an average, 71 million American adults (33.5%)have high levels of the bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
  • It is estimated that less than half of adults with high LDL cholesterol get treatment in the U.S.
  • Considering factors such as the cost of medications, health care services and loss of productivity, heart disease costs the United States around $200 billion each year.

Related Conditions

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Seek medical help immediately if you experience symptoms such as chest pain, tightness in the chest, discomfort or pain in the jaw, back or neck, fainting, shortness of breath, light-headedness etc.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight so as to prevent the ill effects of obesity on health.
  • Manage your cholesterol levels by intake of a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits.
  • Keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Go for a routine health check-up.
Don'ts
  • Be a couch potato. Make healthy lifestyle choices. Regular physical activity can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of arteriosclerosis.
  • Have high alcohol consumption. Also, quit smoking.

 

 

 

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LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
macadamia nuts in food
Proven health benefits and nutrition of macadamia nuts Know all about scientific, amazing health benefits of macadamia nuts, its nutrition, recipes, how to consume, price and…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
Agave nectar: The bitter truth about this sweetener revealed Agave nectar is considered to be sweeter than the normal table sugar and even contains higher amounts of…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
The complete “what to eat” guide for gluten intolerance Does eating breads and pastas often makes you nauseous? Gluten intolerance is a common reason why you might…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
Elderberry: More than just a folk medicine for cold and sinusitis While the raw elderberry can be a hazard, when consumed in the form of teas and syrup, elderberry…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…