Atherosclerosis: What You Should Know

Insides of an Artery

Insides of an ArteryAtherosclerosis occurs when your arteries have a buildup of fatty material. It is among the most common conditions that could cause a stroke and heart attack.

What Happens if You Have Atherosclerosis?

Atheroma, which is fatty material, accumulates in your artery walls’ lining, in turn, narrowing your arteries. This fatty material buildup would eventually grow larger, making your arteries become narrower and narrower until they couldn’t allow enough blood to flow through. The majority of individuals with atherosclerosis don’t actually realize that they have it until they experience symptoms such as chest pain, or have a stroke or heart attack. With this in mind, if you are older than 40 years old or are predisposed to strokes or heart attacks, you should get regular heart screenings.

When not addressed early on, atherosclerosis could result in various health issues:

  • Angina, which is typically heavy chest discomfort or pain
  • PAD or peripheral arterial disease, which occurs when not enough blood couldn’t get to the muscles in your legs
  • Stroke, which occurs when your brain couldn’t get enough blood
  • Heart attack, which happens if fatty material breaks down, forming a blood clot. It could block your artery entirely and cut off your heart’s blood supply.

While atherosclerosis is common, certain risks factors are the same as those for other cardiovascular diseases, says a preventative care specialist in Lehi. It’s also more common in individuals older than 65 years old and those with a history of circulatory or heart disease in the family. You’re also at high risk if you are a smoker; are obese or overweight; don’t exercise regularly; or have high cholesterol or blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes.

Although you can’t simply stop atherosclerosis and there aren’t any treatments to reverse it, there are certain medications and treatments that could halt its progress and reduce your risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re getting proper treatment.