Atherosclerosis is defined as obstruction of the arteries by fatty substances known as plaque or atheroma. Remember that this is considered as a dangerous condition.
These plaques cause the arteries to harden and constrict, limiting the blood flow and oxygen supply to the vital organs, thus increasing the risk for blood clots that can block the blood flow to the heart or brain.
Initially, there are no symptoms, and most are unaware but can later cause dangerous issues such as a stroke or heart attack if it worsens. Nevertheless, the condition can be prevented with healthy lifestyle and treatment.
Who are at risk?
The reason why and how the arteries are blocked is unclear. The condition can develop to anyone, but the following increases the risk:
- Advanced age
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High-fat diet
- Being overweight or obese
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Existing conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes
- Family history of atherosclerosis and CVD
- African-Caribbean, African or Asian descent
At the present, there are no treatment options that can reverse atherosclerosis, but healthy lifestyle changes can prevent it from worsening. Oftentimes, further treatment to lower the risk for health issues such as heart attack or stroke might also be suggested such as:
- Statins to control the cholesterol level
- Drugs for high blood pressure
- Medications to lower the risk for blood clot formation such as clopidogrel or low-dose aspirin
- Dietary adjustments and diabetes medications
- Widening or bypass procedures of the affected artery such as coronary artery bypass graft, coronary angioplasty or carotid endarterectomy