Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease in which the arteries are affected and the fat and protein metabolism in the vascular tissues is disturbed. Atherosclerosis progresses over many years and causes cardiovascular diseases: hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, myocardial infarction – and peripheral vascular disease.
Causes of Atherosclerosis
The cause of atherosclerosis is a metabolic fat, having a genetic origin. Among the factors that determine the disease are also excessive consumption of fatty foods high in cholesterol, sugar, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure, overweight, and diabetes. As a result of the action of one or several of these factors, a large amount of cholesterol is contained in the blood of a patient with atherosclerosis. It settles on the inner walls of the arteries, forming the so-called cholesterol plaques. As a result, the arteries harden, and their lumen narrows, preventing blood flow, which leads to starvation of tissues. Malnutrition organs, especially the heart and brain, are affected.
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
At the initial stage, atherosclerosis develops asymptomatically. The disease is detected during examination or with the appearance of complications. With the defeat of heart vessels, angina (heart pain), heart failure, coronary heart disease occur; if time does not take action, myocardial infarction is possible. Symptoms of cerebral arteriosclerosis are dizziness, especially during sudden changes in body position, noise in the head, memory impairment; when the cerebral artery is broken, a cerebral hemorrhage occurs – a stroke. The symptoms of atherosclerosis of the abdominal vessels include abdominal pain, in the upper half, usually after eating, bloating, belching, and constipation.
For atherosclerosis of the vessels of the lower extremities, paroxysmal pain in the legs is characteristic when walking, while at the same time the pain stops subsiding (intermittent claudication). In addition, there is chilliness of the legs, pale skin when cooled.
Diagnosis of atherosclerosis
In the diagnosis of atherosclerosis, its presence is determined, the localization of atherosclerotic plaques is determined, and the degree of damage to the internal organs is assessed. To detect lipid metabolism disorders, blood is tested for total cholesterol and its fractions – high and low density lipoproteins. To determine whether the blood circulation through the vessels is disturbed, angiography is used – a study with the introduction of a contrast agent into the blood, Doppler ultrasound. According to the testimony can be used and other more complex studies.
Treatment of atherosclerosis is complex. It includes a diet with the restriction of animal fats and products containing cholesterol, the rejection of bad habits, in particular smoking, physical activity, the normalization of work and rest, as well as medication: lowering blood cholesterol, anti-platelet drugs ), beta-blockers of calcium channel blockers, diuretics (lower blood pressure), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis). If the symptoms of atherosclerosis were not resolved with the help of drugs, surgical treatment is carried out – angioplasty, bypass surgery, endarterectomy (removal of a portion of the vessel wall with a cholesterol plaque).