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Definition of Atherosclerosis

Definition of atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a reworking of the arterial wall of medium and large caliber. Sees the arteries accumulate lipids, carbohydrates, fibrous tissue and other deposits. Atherosclerosis is not a disease but a phenomenon that leads to progressive diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

The inner wall of the artery is profoundly altered, leading to thrombosis - the artery mouth - or ruptures of plaques that clog other arteries come. Myocardial infarction, stroke, limb ischemia are all consequences can be deadly.

Risks and consequences of atherosclerosis

The frequency of atherosclerosis varies from one country to another depending primarily on the level of economic development. Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death (myocardial infarction, stroke), with an unequal distribution between North and South, the north being the most affected.

At the global level, atherosclerosis is much less marked in the Mediterranean countries in Asia and the third world.

Eating habits and lifestyle play a major role in the development of atherosclerosis and prevention in the broad sense has its place.

Causes and mechanisms of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the formation of plaques within the arteries. These plates alter blood flow, favoring slow and deposits that exacerbate atherosclerosis.

The obstruction is the final stage of the development of plaque that clogs the vessel lumen completely: the circulation is interrupted and the downstream tissues and organs are not irrigated. If it is a coronary artery of the heart, the result is infarction and in the case of a cerebral artery, the result is a stroke.

Symptoms of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis develops insidiously and silently for years.

It is at the stage of "mature plaque" large enough that the symptoms are felt, unfortunately a little late.
The clinical consequences are at the coronary "acute coronary syndromes" or myocardial infarction with chest pain behind the breastbone in a vice, pain in the arm or jaw, heart failure and death in the absence of treatment.

Stroke is also a possibility of progressive atherosclerosis with regressive onset times before the next episode of paralysis, visual impairment or even a coma.

The acute limb ischemia is it about the migration of a plate in traffic clogging plaque is an artery and cause symptoms of pain, blueness of a member and eventually gangrene with amputation necessary. The leg pain may be less severe and cause intermittent claudication, that is to say, a pain on exertion (walking ...) requiring cessation.

Atherosclerosis Prevention

With what should we be confused?

Arteriosclerosis is roughly the same phenomenon of change of the arteries, except that it is the small arteries are affected, and that aging is the main risk factor (no fat in the plates).

Is there a prevention possible?

The fight against factors cardiovascular risk is a priority. Two of them play an important role in atherosclerosis: Food and overweight.

Bad cholesterol must be reduced: reduction of lipids or fatty acids "saturated" (animal fat luncheon meats for example), fatty acids pastries in favor of monounsaturated fatty acids (olive oil) or omega- 3. Antioxidative vitamins are and must be consumed through fruits and vegetables (at least 5 per day), the phytoestrogens (soy, green tea ...).

Physical activity is an essential prevention. Practice at least 30 minutes of brisk walking per day improves fitness and keeps in shape.

Nutrition education should enable all to balance food intake and energy needs, taking into account weight and age. The objective is to obtain a stability weight (normal weight).

For tobacco, the risk of cardiovascular disease decreases by half in the first year of withdrawal. One more reason to stop smoking!

Atherosclerosis Preparing consultation

When to consult?

The key message is that any pain in the chest and prolonged requires a call SAMU Centre 15. Similarly, while neurological signs (paralysis, difficulty speaking, sensory disorder ...) even reversible must have an urgent consideration.

We must lose no minute to unclog arteries involved quickly and limit the consequences.
What is the doctor?

Experienced signs, medical history and risk factors for cardiovascular diagnosis can evoke a complication of atherosclerosis. The preventive stage, the doctor detects risk factors that multiply (and not additive only): hypertension, cholesterol, triglycerides, smoking, diabetes, physical inactivity, overweight (by the weight / height square) ...

Tests are then performed on the bodies suffer when atherosclerosis heart (electrocardiogram (ECG), ECG, coronary angiography), brain (brain scans, Doppler ultrasound of the neck vessels) or arteriography of the lower limbs.

In case of acute obstruction, should be initiated as soon as possible: by putting a balloon angioplasty (which dilates the narrowed artery) and then placing a stent (a small metal spring prevents the elastic return of the stenosis) or thrombolysis (dissolution) drug , in case of surgical limb ischemia ...

Treatment is prescribed often for life after these acute episodes, as well as rehabilitation.

How to prepare my next visit?

A dietary survey is often suggested by the doctor to review the habits and mistakes corrected. You can perform before consulting a dashboard of your food consumption to compare your activities (expenditures).

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