Atherosclerosis

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Atherosclerosis (ath-er-o-skler-O-sis) is a disease in which plaque (plak) builds up inside your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body.


Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.


Atherosclerosis can lead to serious problems, including heart attack, stroke, or even death.


Figure B shows an artery with plaque buildup.


Atherosclerosis-Related Diseases


Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body, including arteries in the heart, brain, arms, legs, pelvis, and kidneys. As a result, different diseases may develop based on which arteries are affected.


Coronary Heart Disease
Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease, is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States. CHD occurs if plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.


Plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. Plaque buildup also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow.


If blood flow to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, you may have angina (chest pain or discomfort) or a heart attack.


Plaque also can form in the heart's smallest arteries. This disease is called coronary microvascular disease (MVD). In coronary MVD, plaque doesn't cause blockages in the arteries as it does in CHD.


Carotid Artery Disease
Carotid (ka-ROT-id) artery disease occurs if plaque builds up in the arteries on each side of your neck (the carotid arteries). These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. If blood flow to your brain is reduced or blocked, you may have a stroke.


Peripheral Arterial Disease
Peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) occurs if plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your legs, arms, and pelvis.


If blood flow to these parts of your body is reduced or blocked, you may have numbness, pain, and, sometimes, dangerous infections.


Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease can occur if plaque builds up in the renal arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your kidneys.


Over time, chronic kidney disease causes a slow loss of kidney function. The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste and extra water from the body.


Overview


The cause of atherosclerosis isn't known. However, certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors.


You can control some risk factors, such as lack of physical activity, smoking, and an unhealthy diet. Others you can't control, such as age and a family history of heart disease.


Some people who have atherosclerosis have no signs or symptoms. They may not be

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Atherosclerosis

  1. 1. Fitango Education Health Topics Atherosclerosishttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136
  2. 2. Overview Atherosclerosis (ath-er-o-skler-O-sis) is a disease in which plaque (plak) builds up inside your arteries. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 1
  3. 3. Overview Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood. Over time, plaque hardens and narrows your arteries. This limits the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body. Atherosclerosis can lead to serious problems, including heart attack, stroke, or even death.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 2
  4. 4. Overview Figure B shows an artery with plaque buildup. **Atherosclerosis-Related Diseases** Atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body, including arteries in the heart, brain, arms, legs, pelvis, and kidneys. As a result, different diseases may develop based on which arteries are affected.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 3
  5. 5. Overview Coronary Heart Disease Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease, is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States. CHD occurs if plaque builds up in the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 4
  6. 6. Overview Plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. Plaque buildup also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow. If blood flow to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, you may have angina (chest pain or discomfort) or a heart attack.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 5
  7. 7. Overview Plaque also can form in the hearts smallest arteries. This disease is called coronary microvascular disease (MVD). In coronary MVD, plaque doesnt cause blockages in the arteries as it does in CHD. Carotid Artery Diseasehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 6
  8. 8. Overview Carotid (ka-ROT-id) artery disease occurs if plaque builds up in the arteries on each side of your neck (the carotid arteries). These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. If blood flow to your brain is reduced or blocked, you may have a stroke. Peripheral Arterial Diseasehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 7
  9. 9. Overview Peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) occurs if plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply oxygen- rich blood to your legs, arms, and pelvis. If blood flow to these parts of your body is reduced or blocked, you may have numbness, pain, and, sometimes, dangerous infections. Chronic Kidney Diseasehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 8
  10. 10. Overview Chronic kidney disease can occur if plaque builds up in the renal arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your kidneys. Over time, chronic kidney disease causes a slow loss of kidney function. The main function of the kidneys is to remove waste and extra water from the body.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 9
  11. 11. Overview **Overview** The cause of atherosclerosis isnt known. However, certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 10
  12. 12. Overview **Overview** You can control some risk factors, such as lack of physical activity, smoking, and an unhealthy diet. Others you cant control, such as age and a family history of heart disease. Some people who have atherosclerosis have no signs or symptoms. They may not be diagnosed until after a heart attack or stroke.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 11
  13. 13. Overview **Overview** The main treatment for atherosclerosis is lifestyle changes. You also may need medicines and medical procedures. These treatments, along with ongoing medical care, can help you live a healthier life. National Heart Lung and Blood Institutehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 12
  14. 14. Symptoms Atherosclerosis usually doesnt cause signs and symptoms until it severely narrows or totally blocks an artery. Many people dont know they have the disease until they have a medical emergency, such as a heart attack or stroke. Some people may have signs and symptoms of the disease. Signs and symptoms will depend on which arteries are affected.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 13
  15. 15. Symptoms Coronary ArteriesThe coronary arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. If plaque narrows or blocks these arteries (a disease called coronary heart disease, or CHD), a common symptom is angina. Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when your heart muscle doesnt get enough oxygen-rich blood.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 14
  16. 16. Symptoms Angina may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. You also may feel it in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion. The pain tends to get worse with activity and go away with rest. Emotional stress also can trigger the pain. Other symptoms of CHD are shortness of breath and arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs). Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 15
  17. 17. Symptoms Plaque also can form in the hearts smallest arteries. This disease is calledcoronary microvascular disease (MVD). Symptoms of coronary MVD include angina, shortness of breath, sleep problems, fatigue (tiredness), and lack of energy.+++http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 16
  18. 18. Symptoms Carotid ArteriesThe carotid arteries supply oxygen- rich blood to your brain. If plaque narrows or blocks these arteries (a disease called carotid artery disease), you may have symptoms of a stroke. These symptoms may include: Sudden weakness Paralysis (an inability to move) or numbness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the bodyhttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 17
  19. 19. Symptoms Confusion Trouble speaking or understanding speech Trouble seeing in one or both eyes Problems breathing Dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, and unexplained fallshttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 18
  20. 20. Symptoms Loss of consciousness Sudden and severe headache Peripheral ArteriesPlaque also can build up in the major arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis (a disease called peripheral arterial disease).http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 19
  21. 21. Symptoms If these major arteries are narrowed or blocked, you may have numbness, pain, and, sometimes, dangerous infections. Renal ArteriesThe renal arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your kidneys. If plaque builds up in these arteries, you may develop chronic kidney disease. Over time, chronic kidney disease causes a slow loss of kidney function.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 20
  22. 22. Symptoms Early kidney disease often has no signs or symptoms. As the disease gets worse it can cause tiredness, changes in how you urinate (more often or less often), loss of appetite, nausea (feeling sick to the stomach), swelling in the hands or feet, itchiness or numbness, and trouble concentrating. National Heart Lung and Blood Institutehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 21
  23. 23. Diagnosis Your doctor may recommend one or more tests to diagnose atherosclerosis. These tests also can help your doctor learn the extent of your disease and plan the best treatment.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 22
  24. 24. Diagnosis **Blood Tests** Blood tests check the levels of certain fats, cholesterol, sugar, and proteins in your blood. Abnormal levels may be a sign that youre at risk for atherosclerosis.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 23
  25. 25. Treatment Treatments for atherosclerosis may include lifestyle changes, medicines, and medical procedures or surgery. The goals of treatment include: -- Relieving symptomshttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 24
  26. 26. Treatment -- Reducing risk factors in an effort to slow or stop the buildup of plaque -- Lowering the risk of blood clots forming -- Widening or bypassing plaque-clogged arteries -- Preventing atherosclerosis-related diseaseshttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 25
  27. 27. Treatment -- Lifestyle Changes Making lifestyle changes often can help prevent or treat atherosclerosis. For some people, these changes may be the only treatment needed.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 26
  28. 28. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Following a healthy diet can prevent or reduce high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol and help you maintain a healthy weight.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 27
  29. 29. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** For information about healthy eating, go to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institutes (NHLBIs) Aim for a Healthy Weight Web site. This site provides practical tips on healthy eating, physical activity, and weight control.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 28
  30. 30. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC). Your doctor may recommend TLC if you have high blood cholesterol. TLC is a three-part program that includes a healthy diet, physical activity, and weight management. With the TLC diet, less than 7 percent of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. This kind of fat is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 29
  31. 31. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** No more than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories should come from all fats, including saturated, trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. You also should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. The amounts of cholesterol and the types of fat in prepared foods can be found on the foods Nutrition Facts labels.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 30
  32. 32. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Foods high in soluble fiber also are part of a healthy diet. They help prevent the digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include: -- Whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal and oat bran -- Fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, pears, and pruneshttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 31
  33. 33. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** -- Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chick peas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans -- A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can increase important cholesterol-lowering compounds in your diet. These compounds, called plant stanols or sterols, work like soluble fiber.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 32
  34. 34. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** A healthy diet also includes some types of fish, such as salmon, tuna (canned or fresh), and mackerel. These fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids may help protect the heart from blood clots and inflammation and reduce the risk for heart attack. Try to have about two fish meals every week.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 33
  35. 35. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** You should try to limit the amount of sodium (salt) that you eat. This means choosing low-salt and "no added salt" foods and seasonings at the table or while cooking. The Nutrition Facts label on food packaging shows the amount of sodium in the item.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 34
  36. 36. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Try to limit drinks with alcohol. Too much alcohol will raise your blood pressure and triglyceride level. (Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.) Alcohol also adds extra calories, which will cause weight gain. Men should have no more than two drinks containing alcohol a day. Women should have no more than one drink containing alcohol a day. One drink is a glass of wine, beer, or a small amount of hard liquor.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 35
  37. 37. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Your doctor may recommend the DASH eating plan if you have high blood pressure. The DASH eating plan focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other foods that are heart healthy and low in fat, cholesterol, and salt.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 36
  38. 38. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** DASH also focuses on fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products, fish, poultry, and nuts. The DASH eating plan is reduced in red meats (including lean red meats), sweets, added sugars, and sugar- containing beverages. The plan is rich in nutrients, protein, and fiber. **Be Physically Active**http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 37
  39. 39. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Regular physical activity can lower many atherosclerosis risk factors, including LDL ("bad") cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight. Physical activity also can lower your risk for diabetes and raise your HDL cholesterol level. HDL is the "good" cholesterol that helps prevent atherosclerosis.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 38
  40. 40. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise plan. Ask him or her how much and what kinds of physical activity are safe for you.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 39
  41. 41. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** People gain health benefits from as little as 60 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. For major health benefits, do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate- intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. The more active you are, the more you will benefit. **Maintain a Healthy Weight**http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 40
  42. 42. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk for atherosclerosis. A general goal to aim for is a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25. BMI measures your weight in relation to your height and gives an estimate of your total body fat. You can use the NHLBIs online BMI calculator to figure out your BMI, or your doctor can help you.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 41
  43. 43. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. A BMI of less than 25 is the goal for preventing and treating atherosclerosis. Your doctor or health care provider can help you set an appropriate BMI goal. **Quit Smoking**http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 42
  44. 44. Treatment **Follow a Healthy Diet** If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Smoking can damage and tighten blood vessels and raise your risk for atherosclerosis. Talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. If you have trouble quitting smoking on your own, consider joining a support group. Many hospitals, workplaces, and community groups offer classes to help people quit smoking.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 43
  45. 45. Treatment **Manage Stress** Research shows that the most commonly reported "trigger" for a heart attack is an emotionally upsetting event—particularly one involving anger. Also, some of the ways people cope with stress— such as drinking, smoking, or overeating—arent healthy.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 44
  46. 46. Treatment **Manage Stress** Learning how to manage stress, relax, and cope with problems can improve your emotional and physical health. Having supportive people in your life with whom you can share your feelings or concerns can help relieve stress. Physical activity, medicine, and relaxation therapy also can help relieve stress. You may want to consider taking part in a stress management program.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 45
  47. 47. Treatment **Medicines** To slow the progress of plaque buildup, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help lower your cholesterol level or blood pressure. He or she also may prescribe medicines to prevent blood clots from forming. For successful treatment, take all medicines as your doctor prescribes.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 46
  48. 48. Treatment **Medical Procedures and Surgery** If you have severe atherosclerosis, your doctor may recommend a medical procedure or surgery.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 47
  49. 49. Treatment **Medical Procedures and Surgery** Angioplasty (AN-jee-oh-plas-tee) is a procedure thats used to open blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) arteries. Angioplasty can improve blood flow to the heart and relieve chest pain. Sometimes a small mesh tube called a stent is placed in the artery to keep it open after the procedure.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 48
  50. 50. Treatment **Medical Procedures and Surgery** Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a type of surgery. In CABG, arteries or veins from other areas in your body are used to bypass (that is, go around) your narrowed coronary arteries. CABG can improve blood flow to your heart, relieve chest pain, and possibly prevent a heart attack.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 49
  51. 51. Treatment **Medical Procedures and Surgery** Bypass grafting also can be used for leg arteries. For this surgery, a healthy blood vessel is used to bypass a narrowed or blocked artery in one of the legs. The healthy blood vessel redirects blood around the blocked artery, improving blood flow to the leg.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 50
  52. 52. Treatment **Medical Procedures and Surgery** Carotid endarterectomy (END-ar-ter-EK-to-me) is surgery to remove plaque buildup from the carotid arteries in the neck. This procedure restores blood flow to the brain, which can help prevent a stroke. National Heart Lung and Blood Institutehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 51
  53. 53. Causes The exact cause of atherosclerosis isnt known. However, studies show that atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease that may start in childhood. It develops faster as you age. Atherosclerosis may start when certain factors damage the inner layers of the arteries. These factors include:http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 52
  54. 54. Causes -- Smoking -- High amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood -- High blood pressure -- High amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabeteshttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 53
  55. 55. Risks Coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries) is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 54
  56. 56. Risks The exact cause of atherosclerosis isnt known. However, certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that youll develop atherosclerosis. You can control most risk factors and help prevent or delay atherosclerosis. Other risk factors cant be controlled.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 55
  57. 57. Prevention Taking action to control your risk factors can help prevent or delay atherosclerosis and its related diseases. Your risk for atherosclerosis increases with the number of risk factors you have. One step you can take is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Following a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 56
  58. 58. Living and Coping Improved treatments have reduced the number of deaths from atherosclerosis-related diseases. These treatments also have improved the quality of life for people who have these diseases.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 57
  59. 59. Living and Coping Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help you prevent or delay atherosclerosis and the problems it can cause. This, along with ongoing medical care, can help you avoid the problems of atherosclerosis and live a long, healthy life. Researchers continue to look for ways to improve the health of people who have atherosclerosis or may develop it.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 58
  60. 60. Living and Coping **Ongoing Care** If you have atherosclerosis, work closely with your doctor and other health care providers to avoid serious problems, such as heart attack and stroke.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 59
  61. 61. Living and Coping **Ongoing Care** Follow your treatment plan and take all of your medicines as your doctor prescribes. Your doctor will let you know how often you should schedule office visits or blood tests. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have new or worsening symptoms. **Emotional Issues and Support**http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 60
  62. 62. Living and Coping **Ongoing Care** Having an atherosclerosis-related disease may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. Talk about how you feel with your doctor. Talking to a professional counselor also can help. If youre very depressed, your doctor may recommend medicines or other treatments that can improve your quality of life.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 61
  63. 63. Living and Coping **Ongoing Care** Community resources are available to help you learn more about atherosclerosis. Contact your local public health departments, hospitals, and local chapters of national health organizations to learn more about available resources in your area. Talk about your lifestyle changes with your family and friends—whoever can provide support or needs to understand why youre changing your habits.http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 62
  64. 64. Living and Coping **Ongoing Care** Family and friends may be able to help you make lifestyle changes. For example, they can help you plan healthier meals. Because atherosclerosis tends to run in families, your lifestyle changes may help many of your family members too. National Heart Lung and Blood Institutehttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 63
  65. 65. Additional Resources American Heart Association PubMed Healthhttp://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=136 64

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