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Last Updated: Jun 30, 2022

Know All About Atherosclerosis Here

Dr. GarimaGeneral Physician • 2 Years Exp.MNAMS (Membership of the National Academy) (Ophthalmology)
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Atherosclerosis refers to a medical condition in which the arteries become hardened and narrowed due to the accumulation of cholesterol plaque in the walls of the artery, obstructing the flow of blood.


What are the causes?

Atherosclerosis is a slow but progressive disorder that starts with the damage of endothelium – cells lining the interior surface of lymphatic and blood vessels. This allows bad LDL cholesterol to build up in the artery walls. Over time, a plaque made of calcium, macrophages, and cholesterol grows to a certain size to clog up arteries, disrupting blood flow around the body.

Other factors leading to atherosclerosis to include –

  • High blood pressure
  • High levels of triglyceride in the blood
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Certain medical conditions – diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance
  • Smoking/use of tobacco
  • Inflammatory conditions like lupus and arthritis


Symptoms of Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis may develop in childhood or during adolescence. Mild conditions may not reveal observable symptoms unless the arteries are clogged, and blood supply to the tissues and organs are restricted.

Signs of moderate to severe atherosclerosis depend on the affected arteries – it could be the arteries leading to your brain, your heart, legs and arms, or the kidney. The symptoms of atherosclerosis include –

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing/concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Facial numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the feet and hands

If any of the above symptoms seem familiar to you, consult a doctor right away for treatment.


Can atherosclerosis be prevented?

The best way to avoid cholesterol plaque from building up in the artery walls is to prevent the onset of atherosclerosis with these preventive measures.

  • Eat Healthy – Avoid eating foods that are rich in saturated fats – red meat, butter, and cheese. These increase your cholesterol levels drastically. Instead, include foods that contain unsaturated fats, like avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds because this help to keep LDL or bad cholesterol levels down.
  • Stay Active – Exercising and staying active can help regulate your cholesterol levels and prevent certain conditions that might put you at risk for atherosclerosis.
  • Quit Smoking – People who smoke should quit smoking because it is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis – it increases blood pressure, which in turn, affects your cholesterol levels.

Atherosclerosis can lead to complications. With precautionary measures and proper treatment, the condition can be avoided.