Arteriosclerosis is not curable, but with the right therapy, the course of the disease can be delayed

Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries over time, resulting in reduced blood flow to organs and parts of the body. There is a predisposition to arteriosclerosis and its consequences, and women have a natural protection from female sex hormones when they are younger, which decreases with menopause.

Inheritance sex-dependent 

Arteriosclerosis can only be passed down from one gender to the other, and how the gene is passed down depends on the gender of the parents. 

If a male child has an arteriosclerosis gene, it must have come from the mother. If a female child has the gene, it must have come from a male ancestor. 

The onset is insidious and unrecognized

Atherosclerosis can take up to 40 years to show up, and it can cause problems with blood flow, narrowing of the coronary arteries, angina pectoris, and a loss of brain function. Symptoms include circulatory disorders, coronary artery narrowing, angina pectoris, and memory problems.

If the hardening of the arteries gets worse, an arterial occlusion can stop the flow of blood to an organ and leave it without enough oxygen. Arteriosclerotic diseases particularly frequently affect the heart, brain, and legs. 

Risk factors for the development of arteriosclerosis

Atherosclerosis only becomes a disease through factors that accelerate its natural course. This includes: 

  • high blood pressure because it puts more pressure on the blood vessels.
  •  Diabetes mellitus
  • sedentary lifestyle, overweight 
  • High-fat, unbalanced diet 
  • Stress from smoking, as nicotine narrows blood vessels 
  • High uric acid level 
  • Elevated levels of fibrinogen (increased blood clotting) 
  • high homocysteine level
  • vitamin deficiencies 
  • Cholesterol level is too high because cholesterol is deposited in the blood vessels 

Patients with these risk factors should be regularly checked by their doctor.

Development of arteriosclerosis

The vessels are lined with a thin layer of cells called the intima, which can be damaged by damaging influences. This activates the body’s defense system and sends helpers, but this repair is not optimal, as liquid penetrates the vessel wall and blood cells, fat and calcium build up.

As a protective measure, the inner wall of the blood vessel thickens. This is called an atheroma. The term comes from the Greek and means “porridge”, because the resulting thickening looks similar.

Arteriosclerosis is the narrowing of a blood vessel due to lime deposits, resulting in a plaque. This narrowing is not noticed for a long time, as blood vessels can widen to maintain blood flow.

What is happening in the heart?

Circulatory disorders in small arteries are usually noticed when the vessel is only one-third open, with symptoms such as shortness of breath and pain.

The body can form bypass circuits to supply the heart muscle with blood despite a blocked artery, resulting in no symptoms despite a blocked artery.

Small cause, big effect

The most important idea is that when small particles detach from the vessel wall or the entire plaque breaks open, it can block the blood flow to the vascular section, leading to the death of cells.

If the whole thing happens to the heart, a heart attack occurs, and the blockage of cerebral vessels leads to a stroke—with serious personal consequences.

Small, soft plaques are the most dangerous due to their instability, thinner skin, and fatty core, which can be ruptured by sudden physical exertion or fluctuations in blood pressure.

Preventive measures against atherosclerosis

Everyone gets vascular disease with increasing age, but with a healthy lifestyle, it develops more slowly. Our vessels are designed to be permeable for many decades, and some people still have youthful inner walls of the arteries.

If you want to stay healthy, you have to do something for it – and you should know what you can do. The best prevention is a sensible diet and sufficient exercise . In addition to prevention, the avoidance or treatment of risk factors is also of great importance:

  • regular monitoring of blood pressure and cholesterol levels 
  • if the cholesterol level is high, pay attention to a low-cholesterol diet, i.e. reduce the amount of butter, eggs and meat 
  • Diabetics should always make sure that their sugar levels are set correctly
  • Quit or at least reduce smoking.
  •  If you are overweight, you should definitely try to lose weight

Treatment of atherosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis can’t be cured, but with the right treatment, it can be stopped from getting worse. A balloon catheter is used to expand the narrowed artery, and a stent is a small metal mesh that spreads the artery and keeps it open.

If it is not enough to widen the narrowed arteries, an operation to create a so-called bypass is required, in which the bloodstream is diverted. Either endogenous or artificial veins are used for this purpose.

Drugs that lower blood pressure or cholesterol are used to treat artery hardening. Additionally, acetylsalicylic acid is occasionally prescribed to stop platelets from adhering to the blood vessel wall or to one another and causing a blood clot.



4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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