What is Atherosclerosis?

by Jodee on March 19, 2009

Atherosclerosis is also known as “hardening of the arteries.” It is caused when the arteries (the blood vessels that carry oxygen-laden blood to the heart and other organs) are narrowed due to the presence of plaque. Plaque is made up of calcium, cholesterol, fat, some other substances that are present in the blood. Over time, the plaque can attach itself to the interior artery walls and reduce the blood flow. As time goes on, more and more plaque is built up and this can lead to heart attacks or stroke, sometimes with fatal results.

Arteries Affected by Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis can affect arteries in different parts of the body, not just the ones that go into heart. The arteries in your brain, arms, legs, or pelvis can also be affected.

It’s possible to have atherosclerosis without having any symptoms. You may not be aware that you have the condition until you have a heart attack or stroke.

Treatment for Atherosclerosis

If you have been diagnosed with atherosclerosis, your doctor will recommend some lifestyle changes to treat the disorder. You will need to eat well, which means following a low-fat diet that includes a variety of foods. Lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are all a part of healthy eating.

Getting regular exercise is another part of keeping your heart and arteries healthy. Once your doctor gives you the go-head to exercise, you can start slowly.

You don’t need to join a gym to be active, but you do need to stick to the plan. If signing up for an exercise class will help you to stay motivated to exercise, then do it. Some people find that getting an exercise buddy helps. You can decide to go for a walk regularly or go to the gym together and help each other stay on track.

Since smoking increases your risk of developing atherosclerosis, your doctor will advise you to quit. It can be a hard habit to break, but there are a number of methods you can try. Prescription medications, nicotine patches, gum, and acupuncture are all ways to help you get off cigarettes for good.

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