Atherosclerosis is a generic term which refers to the hardening and thickening of the arteries – the blood vessels which bear the full force of each heartbeat.
The most common locations for atherosclerosis are:
- arteries which supply the brain, known as carotid artery disease;
- arteries which supply the legs, known as peripheral arterial disease;
- arteries in the heart, known as coronary atherosclerosis (which is the number 1 killer in America).
List Of 20 Interesting Facts About Atherosclerosis:
#1 In the US, 7 percent of women aged 65 or older have carotid arteries which are more than 50 percent blocked by atherosclerosis. About 8.5 million Americans have peripheral arterial disease. Also, 1 of every 13 people in the United States aged 18 years and older has coronary artery disease.
#2 Worldwide, cardiovascular diseases take the lives of over 18 million people per year. In Spain, hardening of the arteries is responsible for over 125,000 deaths every year.
#3 It occurs when your arteries become clogged with fatty deposits, causing them to become narrower.
#4 If modifiable risk factors are addressed properly, it is estimated that around 90 percent of the atherosclerotic disease burden may be preventable.
#5 Risk factors for hardening of the arteries include:
- having a regular diet rich in saturated and trans-fats, such as – hamburgers, French fries, hot-dogs, onion rings, doughnuts, milk chocolate, cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, cakes;
- sedentarism (physical inactivity);
- high triglyceride levels;
- type 1 diabetes;
- smoking tobacco and regular exposure to second-hand smoking;
- hypertension (high blood pressure);
- high LDL and total cholesterol levels, especially LDL;
- high levels of C-reactive protein (a substance that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation);
- low level of HDL cholesterol.
#6 Even small calcium deposits in the arteries of children and adolescents can predict an early heart attack within several decades, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Cardiology.
#7 As hardening of the arteries progresses, clogged arteries can trigger a stroke or a heart attack, with the following symptoms:
- kidney failure;
- chest pressure or pain;
- high blood pressure;
- sudden leg or arm weakness;
- pain when walking;
- drooping facial muscles;
- brief loss of vision in one eye;
- difficulty speaking;
- slurred speech.
#8 Note – about 50 percent of people who have severe atherosclerosis experience no symptoms.
#9 Over time, hardening of the arteries can lead to:
- peripheral arterial disease – it is the restriction of blood flow in the arteries of the leg; without enough oxygen-rich blood, tissues and nerves in these areas can be injured;
- transient ischaemic attacks – it is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain;
- strokes – occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted;
- heart attacks – it is the death of a segment of the heart muscle caused by a loss of blood supply;
- angina – chest pain caused by not enough blood flow to the heart muscle;
- coronary heart disease – a condition which affects the arteries that supply the heart with blood; without an adequate blood supply, the heart becomes starved of the vital nutrients and oxygen it needs to work healthfully.
#10 Atherosclerosis tests include:
- angiography – it is a medical imaging technique which is used to visualize the inside of organs and blood vessels of the body;
- physical exam;
- exercise stress test;
- Doppler ultrasound – it is medical ultrasonography which employs the Doppler effect;
- blood tests;
- ankle/brachial index – it is done with inflatable blood pressure cuffs placed on the lower legs and arms.
#11 The goals of treatment include:
- bypassing plaque-clogged arteries;
- lowering the risk of blood clots forming;
- relieving symptoms;
- reducing risk factors in an effort to stop or slow the buildup of plaque;
- preventing atherosclerosis-related diseases.
#12 Medications to treat hardening of the arteries are prescribed based on other underlying conditions you may have and the location of the enlarged blood vessels. Medications can include:
- a clot-busting drug may dissolve blood clots;
- cholesterol-lowering drugs can protect the heart arteries;
- calcium channel blockers and diuretics can reduce blood pressure;
- angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors can lower the possibility of a heart attack as they lower blood pressure;
- beta blocker medications can diminish the risk of heart attack, chest pains, and irregular heart rhythm as well as they can reduce the heart rate and blood pressure;
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) can prevent platelets from forming blood clots.
Foods High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
#13 These essential fats can help protect the heart from atherosclerosis. Best foods high in omega 3 are flax seeds and chia seeds.
Onions & Garlic
#14 Both contain allicin, an organic compound that lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol in the human body.
Red Rice Yeast
#15 It can lower the levels of total and LDL cholesterol.
#16 It contains curcumin, a bright yellow chemical that improves blood circulation in the arteries and prevents damage to the walls of blood vessels.
#17 According to a 2009 study, hawthorn reduces the levels of blood fats.
#18 Prognosis is good when hardening of the arteries is treated early with medicines, healthy lifestyle changes (nutrition, exercise, sleep), or medical procedures.
#19 Lifestyle changes will reduce your risk of atherosclerosis. Things you can do include:
- get regular moderate physical activity – it also lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes as well as it helps you to better manage your weight;
- avoid or limit how much alcoholic beverages you drink;
- avoid fatty foods – include several daily servings of vegetables, legumes, fruits, seeds, and nuts including – tomatoes, watermelons, pears, apples, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, chickpeas, potatoes, sweet bell pepper, cayenne pepper, red kidney beans, lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, carrots, prunes, plums, dates, apricots, papayas, pineapples, mangoes, turnips;
- quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoking;
- have healthy sleeping patterns – aim for 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.
Famous People Who Died Of Arteriosclerosis
#20 Some of the famous people who died of hardening of arteries are:
- Henry Travers (1874-1965), an English film and stage character actor;
- John Adams (1735-1826), the second President of the United States;
- Blanche Yurka (1887-1974), an American stage and film actress;
- Joe E Brown (1891-1973), an American actor and comedian;
- George II of Greece (1890-1947), King of Greece from September 1922 to March 1924;
- Leonard Marx (1887-1961), an American musician, comedian, and film star;
- Theodore Woodward (1914-2005), an American medical researcher;
- Cecil Cunningham (1888-1959), an American film and stage actress;
- Cecil Kellaway (1890-1973), a South African character actor;
- William Collier, Jr (1902-1987), an American film and stage actor.