Atherosclerosis is a condition in which blood vessels become narrow due to a buildup of fatty material along the artery walls. When this plaque of fatty material hardens, it forms calcium deposits, eventually clogging the arteries. atherosclerosis ca be the result of the normal aging process, or diseases, such as diabetes.
The accumulation of fatty plaque in the artery walls, causes the inner most layer of the artery to thicken, making the artery’s diameter smaller, thus decreasing the flow of oxygen and blood through the circulatory system. The plaque risk fracturing open and when this happens, it can produce a thrombosis; or a heart attack if the artery becomes completely blocked.
Some of the causes of atherosclerosis are physical inactivity, oxidative process, obesity, and diabetes. Other contributing factors to atherosclerosis are cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, among others.
Atherosclerosis may begin to develop in the late twenties, although it take decades for the symptoms to become noticeable. Some people may experience a rapid development of atherosclerosis in their 30´s, however the risk is higher in men over 45 years of age, and women over 55 years of age.
Chest pain, (angina) is a symptom of atherosclerosis in the arteries close to the heart. The symptoms that are characteristic of atherosclerosis in the carotid artery of the brain include sudden dizziness, weakness, loss of speech, and blindness. Fatigue while walking and cramping are familiar symptoms of atherosclerosis in the femoral artery of the legs.
A healthy diet, including fruits and vegetable, which are rich fiber containing foods, are highly recommended to treat atherosclerosis, as they can help lower your cholesterol levels. There is evidence suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can prevent and treat atherosclerosis by preventing the development of plaque and blood clots. The ingestion of animal protein, saturated fats, and sugars should be avoided, as is the consumption of alcohol, coffee, and tobacco.
Atherosclerosis cannot be completely cured, although if treated properly it can be delayed. Maintaining the practice of a healthy lifestyle, keeping an average body weight, ceasing smoking and drinking habits can reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis. It is a good practice to visit your physician for regular checkups.