Atherosclerosis is one disorder that can spell doom for your heart. If you don’t act on it, it could lead to severe complications. Learn about atherosclerosis symptoms, causes and what’s to be done if you contract it.
What are the Causes of Atherosclerosis?
Your arteries help transport blood from your heart to all the corners of your body. They are lined with a smooth layer of cells called the endothelium. Atherosclerosis is triggered when this wall starts to slowly erode and disintegrate. The inside wall becomes jagged with lots of nooks and crannies. That is why LDL or bad cholesterol, macrophages, calcium or plaque travelling with the blood begins to accumulate along the wall. This narrows down the arteries and a clogged artery cannot allow the usual volume of blood to flow through them. The more plaque gathers, the more your artery gets clogged and the more difficult your blood finds it to flow through the arteries. And since your blood has to push through, it exerts pressure on your arteries and this is when you get high blood pressure.
Moreover, if pieces of the plaque break free from the wall, platelets will accumulate at the site (they travel to injury sites to do repair work) to form blood clots. This will further clog up the artery and cause life-threatening health complications.
What are the Symptoms of Atherosclerosis?
You may not even notice the atherosclerosis symptoms until a rupture in the plaque wall appears or blood flow is severely diminished. Sometimes atherosclerosis shows its earliest signs in adolescence when white streaks show up in the arteries. These streaks occur when your body marshals white blood cells to the arteries to mop up the cholesterol.
Atherosclerosis symptoms depend on the kind of arteries that are affected-
These arteries carry blood to the muscles of your heart. If obstructed coronary arteries cannot deliver the requisite volume of blood, then the oxygen-deprived heart muscles slowly start to die. This can cause a heart attack or angina.
Its symptoms are-
- Persistent chest pain
- Frequent fits of coughing
- Nausea and vomiting
- A feeling of faintness
These arteries lead to the brain and if your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood, you could suffer a stroke. Atherosclerosis symptoms when it affects the carotid arteries are-
- Frequent headaches
- Constant exhaustion
- Numbness of the facial muscles
- Breathing distress
These arteries supply your kidneys with blood. And if they don’t receive the optimum amount of oxygen, then you could get chronic kidney disease.
The symptoms you should look out for-
- Inflammation of the feet or the hands
- Short attention or concentration span
- Appetite loss
Treatment of Atherosclerosis
Based on your atherosclerosis symptoms as well as results of diagnostic tests, your doctor will be able to gauge the type of atherosclerosis and its degree. You will require medication comprising anti-platelet drugs to avert formation of blood clots. You may also have to take medicines to control your cholesterol level.
If atherosclerosis has reached a critical stage, then angioplasty or coronary artery bypass graft will be recommended.
Prevention of Atherosclerosis
You can easily prevent atherosclerosis from developing with a few tweaks in your lifestyle.
First things first, you need to lower your LDL levels. Avoid processed, greasy or convenience foods. Eat plenty of the following to combat LDL-
- Fatty fishes
- Olive oil
- All kinds of seeds
Give up smoking immediately and try to reduce your exposure to passive smoking. Exercising regularly will improve your blood circulation and clean out your arteries.
The moment you notice atherosclerosis symptoms, you should take action. Timely measures will ensure that treatment begins on time so that your organs do not suffer any damage.