Atherosclerosis is a disorder which begins at the childhood stage. This disease matures slowly and may sometimes take decades to become evident or for us to notice its symptoms. Atherosclerosis can be described as a condition which causes the arteries to harden. As a result, such hardened arteries become a cause of a majority of cardiovascular diseases.
Our arteries are clean and flexible. Arteries are the tubes which carry blood and oxygen to heart and other body parts. Atherosclerosis causes plaque to build up on the walls of the arteries. This plaque can be made of substances like fat, cholesterol, calcium, or any other component of the blood. As the time passes, such plaque settles in the arteries and hardens and causes the arteries to become narrower.
As a result, the flow of oxygen rich blood to various parts of the body reduces. The reduced flow of blood can be potentially fatal and may cause problems like heart attack, stroke or death of a person. In order to remove these blockages, a bypass surgery may be required. However, in many cases, this blockage may not get noticed till it is too late.
Atherosclerosis is an unpredictable disease. It can have effect on any part of the body. For example, it can affect arteries of the heart, brain, arms, legs, and pelvis. This causes different diseases to develop for different part of the bodies.
One of the main diseases caused due to Atherosclerosis is the coronary heart disease. This occurs when plaque develops in the coronary arteries. Since these arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart, therefore, the blood flow to heart is reduced. Sometimes, varying sized clots may be formed inside the arteries. Such clots may block the blood low partially or fully.
Limited blood flow to the heart causes angina or pain in the chest and sometimes even a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is one of the mail causes of death in many developed countries. Plaque may form in small arteries of the heart. Such a condition is called the coronary microvescular disease.
Carotid artery disease is caused when plaque is built up on the arteries of the neck. This reduces blood flow to the brain and lead to stroke. Peripheral Arterial Disease occurs when plaque limits blood supply to legs, arms, and pelvis. This leads to numbness, pain, and, in some cases infections.
We know the number of complications which atherosclerosis can lead to. But it is not known that what causes Atherosclerosis. However, research has been able to narrow down focus on a number of factors which lead to increase of risk of contracting Atherosclerosis. Some of these factors include lack of physical activity, smoking, unbalanced and unhealthy diet etc. These factors are easily controllable through a few lifestyle changes. On the other hand there are a few factors which are uncontrollable. These include a family history of heart disease.