What causes atherosclerosis?
The arteries provide oxygen-rich blood to the heart, brain, and other parts of the body. The inner lining of the arteries is called the endothelium. This inner lining can be injured due to high cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, high blood pressure,
smoking and/or diabetes. When the endothelium is damaged, substances that flow through the arteries, such as fats, cholesterol, calcium, cellular waste products and other substances (collectively known as plaque), are deposited in the artery wall, and over time begin to build up. The build up of these substances causes the arteries to harden, narrow or become blocked. Depending on where the hardening or blockage occurs, other complications then follow.
It is thought that atherosclerosis is caused by a response to damage to the endothelium from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking. A person who has all three of these risk factors is eight times more likely to develop atherosclerosis than is a person who has none. Physical inactivity, diabetes, and obesity are also risk factors for atherosclerosis. High levels of the amino acid homocysteine and abnormal levels of protein-coated fats called lipoproteins also raise the risk of coronary artery disease. These substances are the targets of much current research. The role of triglycerides, another fat that circulates in the blood, in forming atherosclerotic plaques is unclear. High levels of triglycerides are often associated with diabetes, obesity, and low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL cholesterol). The more HDL ("good") cholesterol, in the blood, the less likely is coronary artery disease. These risk factors are all modifiable. Non-modifiable risk factors are heredity, sex, and age.
More information on atherosclerosis
What is atherosclerosis? - Atherosclerosis is a stage of arteriosclerosis involving fatty deposits inside the arterial walls. Atherosclerosis can lead to stroke, heart attack, eye problems, and kidney problems.
How does the atherosclerosis develop? - Atherosclerosis is a gradual process that occurs when cholesterol collects under the inner lining of artery walls due to damage from uncontrolled high blood pressure.
What causes atherosclerosis? - Atherosclerosis is caused by a response to damage to the endothelium from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.
What're the risk factors for atherosclerosis? - There are several risk factors that contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, some which can be controlled, and some that cannot.
What're the symptoms of atherosclerosis? - Symptoms of atherosclerosis include the deposition of atheromatous plaques containing cholesterol and lipids on the innermost layer of the walls of large and medium-sized arteries.
How is atherosclerosis diagnosed? - Atherosclerosis is usually diagnosed after other complications have arisen and another conditions has been diagnosed, such as coronary artery disease.
What're the treatments for atherosclerosis? - Medical treatments for atherosclerosis focus on the symptoms. Physical treatments include minimally invasive angioplasty procedures.
How atherosclerosis is prevented? - Prevention of atherosclerosis centers on reducing cholesterol, homocysteine level, keeping triglycerides in check, maintaining a healthful weight.