Atherosclerosis prevention

The arteries in your body are responsible for carrying blood from your heart to your organs and feeding your body with oxygen. Should this flow be interrupted or slowed, then you risk not only overtaxing your heart, but your organs are at risk for failure. In the case of atherosclerosis, this is exactly what happens. Your arteries develop plaque and eventually become narrower over time. This leads to a less than optimal route for blood flow to your organs, forces your heart to work harder, and builds up pressure inside of your arteries. As the flow continues to worsen, your organs become starved and can no longer operate at their full capacity. In this article, I’d like to talk about what you can do to prevent this from happening and if we are too late for that, then what you can do to fix it.

The causes of atherosclerosis are mostly unknown, but it appears as if age is the primary factor. Over time, the LDL (good cholesterol) in your body becomes oxidized by free-radicals, which causes damage to the arterial wall. In an effort to repair itself, your body sends white blood cells, which in turn rupture and cause more damage. Eventually, your arteries become inflamed and start to clog. Obviously, this is not a pleasant process, so preventing it is the first place to start.

Some of the conditions that can increase your risk factor for developing stenosis (plaque in the arteries) are as follows:
Having diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes, which carries additional risk factors with it.

  • Being overweight or carrying large amounts of fat in the body.
  • High cholesterol or conditions and dietary factors that lead to it.
  • Alcoholism and tobacco use, both of which significantly increase risk.
  • High carbohydrate diets have also been shown to increase risk factors for arthrosclerosis.
  • High stress and/or lack of sleep.
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity.

The best way to prevent atherosclerosis is to eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, and make sure you get a healthy dose of antioxidants on a daily basis. Most people already know this, but few actually take action to change their health for the better. If you’ve waited too long to take action and you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, then you should still improve your diet and exercise routines so that you can give your body a better base from which to fight. Continuing to eat poorly and get little exercise will only make medicines less effective.

In regards to treatment, there are several medicines called “statins” that have been proven to reduce plaque and prevent it from developing in the future. The downside to these medications is that there are some side effects. Also, often times more than one series of medications is needed in order for the condition to reside. Aspirin has also been shown to thin the blood and help ease the pressure inside of the arteries. Aspirin combined with statin treatment is the most effective method of treatment because it works to thin the blood and reduce or mitigate inflammation and buildup of plaque.

There are also some clinical trials with a drug called Apo-A1 Milano, which is a form of LDL protein that is used to significantly reduce inflammation and plaque buildup. However, these medications are still in the trial phase and are only available with a doctor’s consent. Most of the time, atherosclerosis is asymptomatic, however if you feel symptoms of heart disease or cardiac stress, then you should schedule an appointment with your doctor or cardiologist as soon as possible. You can never be too safe when dealing with your heart.

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Last updated on May 30th, 2010 and filed under Cardiovascular Disorders. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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