Description of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a degenerative disease of the arteries in which the inner and middle coats of the arterial walls become scarred and fatty deposits (cholesterol) are built up at these sites. The channel or lumen of the artery becomes progressively narrowed so that the blood circulation is impaired and may become completely blocked.
Persons most commonly affected by Atherosclerosis - adults in middle and older age groups. Less common in women before the menopause than in men in the same age range. However, older (postmenopausal) women experience the same rates of disease as men.
Organ or part of body involved in Atherosclerosis - arteries in any part of the body.
Symptoms and indications of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is often well advanced before any symptoms are noticed, and these depend on the arteries involved. If leg arteries are affected, there may be pains and cramps in the legs. If it is the coronary arteries the symptoms could be of ANGINA PECTORIS or CORONARY THROMBOSIS. If the disease involves the arteries in the brain, the person may suffer a STROKE. A person with symptoms of atherosclerosis or atheroma should seek immediate medical help.
Treatment of Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis Treatment is aimed at prevention as there is at present no cure for this condition. These measures include eating a low-fat diet that does not contain too much cholesterol or salt, not smoking, taking regular exercise, losing weight if obese and trying to avoid stress. Also, persons suffering from HYPERTENSION or DIABETES MELLITUS should keep strictly to their prescribed treatment. The serious complications that can arise as a result of atherosclerosis obviously require immediate treatment and are described elsewhere.
Causes and risk factors of Atherosclerosis
The cause of atherosclerosis or atheroma is a buildup of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the arteries leading to reduced blood flow or blockage. The reasons why this occurs are not entirely clear, but there is an association with the western lifestyle, i.e. lack of exercise, smoking, obesity and too high an intake of animal fats. Older persons and those with high blood pressure or diabetes mellitus are also more at risk.