atherosclerosis

What is Atherosclerosis?


Atherosclerosis is a common disorder of the arteries. It occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques.

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Also known as arteriosclerosis, vascular diseases, hardening of the arteries, Atherogenesis, Atheroma, Atheromas, arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis
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Atherosclerosis information from trusted sources:

Hardening of the arteries

The vascular system is the body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart. Problems of the vascular system are common and can be serious. Arteries can become thick and stiff, a problem called arteriosclerosis. Blood clots can clog vessels and block blood flow to the heart or brain. Weakened blood vessels can burst, causing bleeding inside the body. You are more likely to have vascular disease as you get older. Other factors that make vascular disease more likely include

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Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty material collects along the walls of arteries. This fatty material thickens, hardens (forms calcium deposits), and may eventually block the arteries. Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis. The two terms are often used to mean the same thing.

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Arteriosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition where the arteries - the blood vessels that supply oxygen and other nutrients to the body's organs - harden and become narrower. This can restrict the supply of blood running through the arteries.

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Hardening of the arteries

Hardening of the arteries (arthrosclerosis) is a disorder in which arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body) become narrowed because fat (cholesterol deposits called atherosclerosis) is first deposited on the inside walls of the arteries, then becomes hardened by fibrous tissue and calcification (arteriosclerosis). As this plaque grows, it narrows the lumen of the artery (the space in the artery tubes), thereby reducing both the oxygen and blood supply to the affected organ (like the heart, eyes, kidney, legs, gut, or the brain). The plaque may eventually severely block the artery, causing death of the tissue supplied by the artery, for example, heart attack or stroke.

Arteriosclerosis

A term applied to a number of pathological conditions in which there is thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of the walls of arteries. This results in altered function of tissues and organs.

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Arteriosclerosis/Atherosclerosis

Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. Healthy arteries are flexible, strong and elastic. Over time, however, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls thick and stiff sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. This process is called arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

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Atherosclerosis, Coronary

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. It is the leading cause of death in the United States in both men and women. CAD happens when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. This is due to the buildup of cholesterol and other material, called plaque, on their inner walls. As the buildup grows, less blood can flow through the arteries. As a result, the heart muscle can't get the blood or oxygen it needs. This can lead to chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Most heart attacks happen when a blood clot suddenly cuts off the hearts' blood supply, causing permanent heart damage.

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Contents

Diagnosis
Atherosclerosis does not usually produce any symptoms until a cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurs. It is therefore important for those who are at risk of developing atherosclerosis to be tested for the condition. This means they can be given treatment that will reduce the risk of them developing a CVD.

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Exams and Tests
A health care provider will perform a physical exam and listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Atherosclerosis can create a whooshing or blowing sound ("bruit") over an artery.

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Medical advice
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you are at risk for atherosclerosis, especially if you have symptoms.

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Outlook (Prognosis)
Everyone starts to develop some amount of atherosclerosis as they grow older. In some people, the condition can cause complications such as a heart attack or stroke.

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Possible Complications
Coronary heart disease; Damage to organs (such as the kidneys, brain, liver, and intestines); Heart attack; Stroke; Too little blood to the legs and feet; Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

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Prevention
The best way to prevent atherosclerosis occurring is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

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Symptoms
Symptoms usually do not occur until blood flow becomes restricted or blocked.

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Treatment
To help prevent atherosclerosis or its complications (such as heart disease and stroke), make the following lifestyle changes: Avoid fatty foods. Eat well-balanced meals that are low in fat and cholesterol. Include several daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Adding fish to your diet at least twice a week may be helpful. However, do not eat fried fish, Do not drink more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day, Exercise regularly for 30 minutes a day if you are not overweight, and for 60 - 90 minutes a day if you are overweight. Get your blood presure checked every 1 - 2 years, especially if high blood pressure runs in your family. Have your blood pressure checked more often if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or you have had a stroke. Talk to your doctor. Everyone should keep their blood pressure below 140/90 mmHg, If you have diabetes or have had a stroke or heart attack, your blood pressure should probably be less than 130/80 mm/Hg. Ask your doctor what your blood pressure should be. Have your cholesterol checked and treated if it is high. See: High cholesterol and triglycerides Adults should have their cholesterol checked every 5 years. If you are being treated for high cholesterol, you will need to have it checked more often, All adults should keep their LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels below 130-160 mg/dL, If you have diabetes, heart disease, or hardening of the arteries somewhere else in your body, your LDL cholesterol should be lower than 100 mg/dL, Few medications have been found to clear up plaque. Statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs can help prevent more plaque from forming. Your doctor may suggest taking aspirin or another drug called clopidogrel (Plavix) to help prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries. These medicines are called antiplatelet drugs. DO NOT take aspirin without first talking to your doctor. Talk to your doctor about the safety of hormone replacement therapy for menopause. Guidelines no longer recommend...

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