Human anatomy » Diseases of the blood vessels » Atherosclerosis
- Category: Diseases of the blood vessels
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What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis (Greek athera - gruel and the sclerosis) - is a chronic disease in which the inner wall of the arteries are deposited cholesterol and other fats in the form of plaques and plaque, and walls themselves are compacted and lose their elasticity. This leads to a narrowing of the lumen of the artery, and hence to the difficulty of blood flow. The victims of atherosclerosis usually become persons of middle and old age. However atherosclerotic changes are detected, in some cases in children and even in newborn.
Why atherosclerosis happens?
Atherosclerosis is more common in men over 35 years old, subject to frequent stress. Also it has a value hereditary factor. Contribute to the development of the disease of obesity, gout, gallstones and others. Meals with an excess of animal fat plays an important role as a predisposing factor, but not as the primary cause of atherosclerosis. Great importance in the origin of this disease have low physical activity, psycho-emotional voltage, traumatic the nervous system, the effect of noise, some specific working conditions, etc.
In healthy people, blood flows freely through the arteries to all parts of the body, supplying them with oxygen and other nutrients. If the blood contains an excessive amount of cholesterol, it is deposited on the inner surface of blood vessels, forming atherosclerotic plaques.
Atherosclerotic plaque - is a formation which consists of a mixture of fat (primarily cholesterol) and calcium.
Over time, the plaque becomes flimsy, on its surface arise defects. In the place of the defect on the inner shell of the vessel begins to form thrombus - cluster of cells mainly platelets (blood elements involved in the clotting process) and blood proteins.
Firstly, thrombus more narrows the lumen of the artery, and secondly, it may have come off a piece, which is goes down the vessel with the blood flow, while the latter becomes so small diameter that thrombus gets stuck. As a result, it stops the blood supply to the appropriate organ or tissue area. This leads to the development of necrosis (infarction). Depending on the place of thrombosis may develop infarction of the kidney, spleen, intestines and others. With a thrombus in blood vessels that feed the heart, develops myocardial infarction, and if atherosclerosis affects the brain arteries, the risk of insult is increases at several times.
The disease develops for several years, slowly but surely grabbing all intact vessels. From the moment when lumen of the artery is narrowed by more than 3/4, the person begins to feel the first signs of a lack of blood supply to the tissue or organ. Atherosclerosis of the aortic arch branches leads to a lack of blood supply to the brain, what causes dizziness, fainting, and can lead to insult. The atherosclerosis of a coronary arteries of the heart leads to the development of coronary heart disease.
Atherosclerosis of mesenteric arteries, i.e. the arteries feeding the intestine can lead to:
- thrombosis of the arterial branches, resulting in is necrosis (death of tissue) intestine wall and mesentery ;
- abdominal toad - is colic similar bouts of abdominal pain, occurring soon after eating, often with vomiting and bloating. By the way, these bouts remove by starvation.
Atherosclerosis of renal artery violates blood flow to the kidneys, leads to persistent, difficult to treat an arterial hypertension. The outcome of this process - chronic renal failure. A atherosclerotic vascular lesions of the penis in the background of smoking, diabetes mellitus, or hypertension, is one of the most important factors of erectile dysfunction.
Atherosclerosis of the arteries of the lower limbs is manifested as chronic pain in the legs, which appears when walking and disappears when stopping. This phenomenon is called intermittent claudication.
Diagnosis of the atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis can occur for a long time without any manifestations, but modern methods of examination allow the identification of this disease even in its early stages - for this developed a method of Doppler ultrasound of the arteries. It allows to estimate the size of plaques and blood flow disturbance in the area of narrowing of the vessel.
To examine the status of the coronary (heart) blood vessels are using the method of coronary angiography - a special way made by X-rays allow us to determine the exact location of atherosclerotic plaques and the degree of narrowing of the arterial lumen.
Treatment of the atherosclerosis
At the present time for the treatment of atherosclerosis and its consequences are using highly efficient surgical techniques. The least traumatic of them - balloon angioplasty (luminal expansion of narrowing of vessels by using intravascular balloon). It can be complemented by the installation of a stent (a special metal tab that holds the vessel lumen in an expanded state). With more significant lesion is carried out the removal of atherosclerotic plaques, the replacement of the affected vessel or a creation of new path for blood flow.
Apart from radical methods, there are many medications that can reduce cholesterol and other atherogenic (leading to the formation of plaques) lipids. Some of the most effective medications - statins, blocking the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver.
For the prevention of atherosclerosis listen to conversations about healthy lifestyles - perhaps it is worth taking care of your body, before the need arises to address to the doctor, quit smoking, pay attention to that what you eat in everyday life - can be a meaning not to overload your body with excess of cholesterol.