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Atherosclerosis (Arterial Stiffness)

Atherosclerosis (Arterial Stiffness)

Atherosclerosis is described as the narrowing and hardening of the arteries due to build-up of cholesterol and plaques (fat deposits) around the artery wall. This condition, which is also named as arterial stiffness, may cause angina pectoris and myocardial infarction in the course of time. Prevention of atherosclerosis is much easierthan its treatment. The prerequisite to prevent atherosclerosis is to raise the awareness of the patients at risk.

How does it develop?

As a result of genetic and acquired factors, fat is deposited within the arteries and the artery wall is deformed in such a way that leads to problems such as narrowing and hardening of the arteries, which ultimately results in atherosclerosis.

Today, atherosclerosis is very common problem, which is getting worse in the course of time. The factors causing atherosclerosis:

- Genetic factors:Individuals with family history of coronary artery disease have higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.

- Age and gender:Although it is more common in men, men over 45 and women over 55 have higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.

- Diabetes

- Obesity

- Smoking causes fat deposits in the arteries.

- Sedentary life style 

- Stress

- Hypertension 

What are the symptoms of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a severe condition developing in a long period of time. Although the patient may not have any sign or symptom of atherosclerosis, the condition may manifest itself in the form of certain diseases, which potentially may be life threatening for the patient, depending on the location of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis can be diagnosed during the regular check-ups by using the following investigations;

  • Angiography
  • Doppler Ultrasound
  • Exercise test and scintigraphy
  • Computed tomography.

Therefore, individuals at risk must have regular check-ups to avoid development of any potential disease due to atherosclerosis.

Problems caused by atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis may cause several health problems at the site where it develops. Most serious problem is chest pain and heart attack,once atherosclerosis develops in the heart vessels.When atherosclerosis develops in the brain, it may result in stroke, loss of consciousness or speech disorders. Atherosclerosis in the legs causes pain and burning sensation and at a later stage may even lead to development of wounds in the legs.

Vascular diseases are the health problems that should be taken very seriously. It is also possible to protect vascular health by changing lifestyle.

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