Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death today worldwide, and most of these deaths are related to atherosclerosis. It is a condition caused when the arteries carrying blood to the heart thickens and loses flexibility which in turn results in restricted blood flow.
Fatty substances like cholesterol deposit on the artery walls causing blockages and restricting the blood flow, these deposits are called plaque. This condition is caused over time which narrows the artery or at times breaks open leading to heart attack. Same way Plaque blocks the artery leading to stroke.
High blood pressure, chest pain, shortness of breath, slurred speech or difficulty in speaking, drooping facial muscles, pain in leg while walking, kidney failure are some of the certain symptoms indicated when the arteries are blocked.
Various factors contribute to the risk of atherosclerosis, some of which are:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Elevated triglycerides
- Insulin resistance or diabetes
- Smoking or use of other tobacco products
- Inflammation from other diseases
While some causes and risk factors cannot be controlled, there are ways to prevent atherosclerosis:
- Quit Smoking: Smoking directly leads to the damage of the arteries. It is a major risk factor as the nicotine substances in a cigarette tightens the blood vessels increases inflammation and thus causing blockages. Quitting smoking substantially reduces the progression of the disease.
- Regular Exercise: Physical activity plays an important role in improving blood flow, increase in oxygen levels, lowering blood pressure by reducing the risk of conditions. Dedicating one hour in a day for regular workouts like brisk walking, swimming, bicycling, gyming, aerobics etc. helps in prevention of the problem.
- Manage Stress: Long-term exposure to chronic stress causes an immunological response that results in inflammation, which is linked to the development of disease, including arteriosclerosis. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation helps in reducing the stress.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity increases the risk of coronary heart disease, even a small amount of weight loss can help reduce this risk. The foundation of good health is a nutrient-rich diet. Diet that contains fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and eliminating saturated and trans fats, sugars, artificial sweeteners, and refined carbohydrates can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar, and control weight.
- Consume healthy sources of fat: Not all types of fats are bad – in fact, natural fats of all kinds can help fight inflammation, which is the cause of most diseases. For example, a diet high in monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of coronary heart disease. A high intake of monounsaturated fatty acids from natural sources such as avocados and olive oil is now advocated for the prevention of all types of cardiovascular disease.
A good diet, regular exercise, and medicine to manage or potentially even reverse the condition are all part of arteriosclerosis treatment. If enlarged blood vessels have been diagnosed, doctors create an individualized treatment plan, basis each patient’s requirement to prevent blood clots from forming. Certain lifestyle modifications can help keep arteries healthy and may prevent or slow atherosclerosis. However, sometimes medications or surgery are needed.