Know And Fight a Chronic Condition” Atherosclerosis “

Subarna Ghosal

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What is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is defined as a  condition where plaque starts to build up inside your arteries( are blood vessels that can carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body). Plaque consisting of fat, cholesterol, calcium, etc found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries and in this way, it limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs of your body. Atherosclerosis can cause heart attack, stroke or even death.

Anatomical correct cross section through arteriosclerosis.

Difference between arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis?

  • Arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the arteries become thick and rigid, hence restricting the blood flow to your organs and tissues.
  • Healthy arteries are generally flexible and elastic, but gradually the walls in your arteries can harden commonly called hardening of the arteries.
  • Arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis are different conditions. Arteriosclerosis cause stiffening of the artery walls.Atherosclerosis cause of the artery because of plaque accumulation. Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis.
  • People suffering from atherosclerosis also have arteriosclerosis, but those with arteriosclerosis might not have atherosclerosis.


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.

Symptoms of atherosclerosis depend on which arteries are affected

  • If you have atherosclerosis in your heart arteries, symptoms appear like such as chest pain or pressure (angina).
  • If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries in your arms and legs, symptoms of peripheral artery disease, such as leg pain occur
  • If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries leading to your brain,  symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, temporary loss of vision in one eye, etc
  • If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries which are leading to your kidneys, you may develop high blood pressure.

The symptoms mainly depend on which arteries are affected

Carotid arteries

Carotid arteries provide blood to the brain. Limited blood supply can lead a stroke, and a person may experience symptoms as a result of atherosclerosis in this area, like

  • weakness
  • difficulty breathing
  • headache
  • facial numbness
  • paralysis

Coronary arteries

Chest pain might be a symptom of atherosclerosis which are affecting the coronary arteries When the blood supply to the heart is limited, it can cause angina and heart attack.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme Anxiety
  • Chest Pain
  • vomiting
  • coughing
  • feeling faint

Renal Arteries

Renal arteries supply blood to the kidneys. when the blood supply becomes limited, there is a risk of developing chronic kidney disease

The person with renal artery blockage may experience:

  • loss of appetite
  • swelling of the hands and feet
  • difficulty concentrating

Atherosclerosis doesn’t cause symptoms until middle or older age.

When the narrowing becomes severe, it can choke off blood flow and cause pain.

Plaque Attacks

Attacks can stay in the artery wall. Where plaque grows to a certain size and stops. This type of plaque doesn’t block blood flow, it may never cause symptoms.

Plaque can grow in a slow, way into the path of blood flow. Eventually, it causes significant blockages. Symptoms like [pain in the chest or legs.

The worst happens when plaques suddenly rupture, allowing blood to clot inside an artery. this causes a stroke or heart attack.

The plaques of atherosclerosis cause the three main kinds of cardiovascular disease:

  • A cerebrovascular disease where ruptured plaques in the brain’s arteries cause strokes with the potential for permanent brain damage.
  • Coronary artery disease: where stable plaques in the heart’s arteries cause angina or (chest pain).
  • Peripheral artery disease is characterized by narrowing in the arteries of the legs from plaque causes poor circulation. This makes it painful for you to walk.

Atherosclerosis is a slow but progressive disease. Sometimes it doesn’t become dangerous until they reach their 50s or 60s. (Some hardening of the arteries is normal as people age.)scientists believe plaque begins when an artery’s inner lining becomes damaged.  possible causes of such damage are:

  • Higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette Smoking

Do you know that Smoking has a big role in the progression of atherosclerosis in the aorta (the body’s main artery), coronary arteries and arteries in the legs? Smoking makes fatty deposits more likely to form, and it accelerates the growth of plaque. When bad cholesterol,  crosses the damaged endothelium, the cholesterol enters the wall of the artery. That causes your white blood cells to digest the LDL. Plaque creates a bump on the artery wall. As atherosclerosis progresses, that bump gets bigger. can create a blockage. That process goes on throughout your entire body. As a result, you are also at risk for stroke and other health problems.

Factors responsible for more than 90% of all heart attacks:

Major. Minor. NON-modifiable Modifiable. Increasing age. Obesity. Male gender. Physical inactivity. Family history. Stress ( type A personality) Genetic abnormalities. Postmenopausal estrogen deficiency. High carbohydrate intake. Modifiable. Hyperlipidemia. Alcohol. Hypertension. Lipoprotein Lp(a) Cigarette smoking. Hardened (trans)unsaturated fat intake. Diabetes. Chlamydia pneumoniae.
  • Diabetes
  • Abdominal Obesity (“spare tire”)
  • Stress
  • high Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Excessive Alcohol intake
  • Not exercising regularly
  • Smoking
  •  Individuals with poorly controlled diabetes and frequently high blood glucose levels are more likely to develop atherosclerosis.
  • People who have a parent or sibling with d cardiovascular diseases have a much higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.
  • Exposure to air pollution appears to increase the risk of cholesterol build-up in the coronary arteries.
  • People exposed to these risk factors should be especially careful about maintaining a low-fat and low-sodium diet and avoiding tobacco intake.


Atherosclerosis can lead to serious complications.

  • The kidneys can malfunction if they do not receive enough blood.
  • An aneurysm is a serious condition in which the walls of an artery bulge, sometimes bursting and causing potentially fatal internal bleeding.
  • stroke is a medical emergency in which the blood supply to the brain is blocked. This can kill brain cells.
  • The heart is not able to pump enough blood around the body, or may not fill with sufficient levels of blood.
  • A heart attack is a medical emergency in which the supply of blood becomes blocked. It can be life-threatening.
  • Atherosclerosis can lead to abnormal heart palpitations.
Complications of Atherosclerosis


A diagnosis will depend on medical history, test results, and a physical exam.

Atherosclerosis on the diagnosis list

Tests Include

Blood tests measure how much sugar, fat, and protein there is in the blood.

Physical exam The doctor will listen to the arteries using a stethoscope to see if there is an unusual sound as a result of uneven blood flow.

There may be a bulge behind the knee or in the abdomen, indicating the presence of an aneurysm

If blood flow is restricted, wounds may not heal properly. The doctor will have to check for this type of wound.

Ultrasound: it can check blood pressure at distinct parts of the body.

CT scan: can be used to find arteries that are hardened.


  • Treating atherosclerosis is important for preventing complications. Options like lifestyle changes, various medications, and surgical interventions.
  • it is important that a doctor correctly diagnoses atherosclerosis.

Medication:  drugs for high cholesterol and high blood pressure will slow and halt atherosclerosis. They could also lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Angiography and stenting: Angioplasty and stenting can often open up a blocked artery. Stenting reduces symptoms, although it does not prevent future heart attacks.

Bypass surgery: Surgeons searches a healthy blood vessel (often from the leg or chest). They use the healthy vessel to go around a blocked segment.

Lifestyle changes focus on weight management, physical activity, and a healthy diet.


  • Antiplatelet medications can prevent the accumulation of plaque or help prevent blood clots.
  • statins might be prescribed to lower cholesterol,
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors can help lower blood pressure.


atherosclerosis may be treated by surgical procedures, such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).

  • Angioplasty is expanding the artery and opening the blockage so that the blood can flow through properly again.
  • CABG is another form of surgery that can improve blood flow to the heart by using arteries from other parts of the body to bypass a narrowed coronary artery.


Preventing the development of atherosclerosis is one of the best ways to treat the condition by avoiding saturated fats as that increase levels of bad cholesterol. The following foods are high in unsaturated fats and can help keep bad cholesterol levels down walnuts, oily fish, nuts, seeds olive oil, avocados.

Exercise will improve fitness levels, lower blood pressure, and help weight loss.

Lifestyle Changes

We need to reduce risk factors that lead to atherosclerosis will slow or stop the process.

Like a healthy diet, exercise and no smoking. These changes won’t remove blockages, but they’re proven to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The American Heart Association recommends reducing the amount of meat, eggs, milk, and other dairy products in your diet.

food high in protein,protein sources

Check food labels to find the amount of saturated fat in a product.

limit  much salt and sugar in the diet

Be careful with processed foods such as frozen dinners. They can be high in fat, sugar, salt, and cholesterol.

Choose lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats and fish, as well as whole-grains like oats etc

Choose unsaturated vegetable oils like canola oil instead of saturated fats .


Regular aerobic exercise can help fight atherosclerosis by reducing the amount of fat in your blood, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Brisk walking, swimming, and bicycling are good choices.

It’s OK to start slowly and work up to at least 30 to 40 minutes, 4 to 5 days a week.

But don’t forget to ask your healthcare provider’s advice about what kind of exercise program is fit for you.

Regular checkups. With healthcare provider check your blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure can further complicate atherosclerosis by causing artery walls to harden called arteriosclerosis.

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