BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health: Arteriosclerosis


Blog, Uncategorized

Arteries are blood vessels that carry blood from the heart, they are lined by a thin layer of cells called endothelium, which keep them smooth and allow blood to flow easily. Arteriosclerosis is a situation where these blood vessels that carry blood-containing oxygen and nutrients, from the heart to other parts of the body thicken and become stiff, causing restrictions in blood flow to body organs and tissues. Usually, the structure of arteries allows them to be flexible and elastic; however, the arterial walls can harden and become narrow in another condition commonly known as Atherosclerosis. In this condition, the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to a buildup of plaque around the artery wall; it is also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease.

Similar to Atherosclerosis, Arteriosclerosis disrupts blood flow around the body, posing the risk of serious complications. It occurs when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing harmful cholesterol to build up in walls of the artery. To fight this problem, the body sends white blood cell to flush out the cholesterol, however, these cells may become stuck at the affected site building up plaque. In extreme cases, the plaque may break open, cause blood clots and result in life-threatening complications, such as stroke and heart attack.

Risk factors for arteriosclerosis (Arteriosclerosis is the stiffening or hardening of the artery walls) and Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the artery because of plaque build-up- a specific type of arteriosclerosis) include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, air pollution, genetics,  and high levels of sugar in the blood. Symptoms of these conditions depend on whether it’s the carotid, coronary or renal arteries that are affected. General symptoms include weakness, difficulty breathing, headache, facial numbness, paralysis, vomiting, anxiety, chest pain, coughing, loss of appetite, swelling of the hands and feet and difficulty concentrating

Diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis are important to prevent complications. Common methods of diagnosis include:

  • Blood tests which measure sugar, fat and protein content in the blood
  • Physical exams used to detect plaques, weak pulse, low blood pressure, aneurysm and wounds that don’t heal properly
  • Ultrasound scanner can be used to check blood pressure at distinct parts of the body- pressure changes may indicate arteries that have an obstructed blood flow.
  • CT scan is used to find arteries that are hardened and narrowed.

Treatment options include lifestyle changes including maintaining a healthy weight, medications that have antiplatelet capacity and surgical interventions such as angioplasty or coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG). However, it is important that atherosclerosis is accurately diagnosed, and on time, to ensure the functions of the arteries are returned to full capability. It is always better to prevent the development of by eating a good diet, frequent exercise and not smoking.

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