What is arteriosclerosis and its causes?

Modifying your lifestyle to eliminate your risk factors is the key to avoiding arteriosclerosis, a condition in which the arteries become stiff and thick, making it difficult for blood circulation.

Arteriosclerosis is a disease of the arteries consisting of the loss of elasticity, becoming thicker and rigid vessels blood, restricting blood flow (and hence oxygen and nutrients) to the organs and tissues.

The cardiovascular risk factors greatly influence this disorder’s appearance, which is common in the adult population. However, atherosclerosis begins in childhood with the formation of fatty streaks as initial lesions, which will gradually transform throughout life with risk factors.

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When a blood vessel wall is injured, a series of events are set in motion that lead to the accumulation of blood cells responsible for plugging the injury, known as platelets. The grouping of platelets, in turn, favors the deposit of fat ( cholesterol ) on the walls of the vessels. In this way, so-called atheroma plaques are formed that cause the arteries to progressively narrow.

The consequence is that blood circulation is significantly reduced. Therefore, there is a deficit in the blood supply to the human body’s organs and tissues, which do not receive the necessary nutrients. In other words, this fact causes the so-called cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (stroke), peripheral arterial disease, and aortic aneurysms. This problem accounts for around 17 million deaths annually globally, which represents approximately one-third of deaths globally.

Differences between atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis

On many occasions, the terms atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis are used interchangeably to speak of the same thing. Although the distinction between the two forms of nomination is not very clear, it should be known that arteriosclerosis is known as the thickening and hardening of the arterial wall. At the same time, atherosclerosis is a subtype of arteriosclerosis. It refers to the accumulation of fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances inside the blood vessels, on the arterial walls, thus restricting blood flow.

Plaques can become calcified, ruptured, and ulcerated. When this content of the plaques comes into contact with the blood, it can cause a blood clot or thrombus, which can obstruct the artery’s interior, preventing the blood supply to the area of ​​the heart dependent on the said artery.

Although it is considered a heart problem, it can also affect any artery in the body (legs, feet, arms, pelvis), causing pain, burning or numbness in the area, even infections, a peripheral problem arterial disease, which significantly affects the elderly. 55 years.

Causes and risk factors of arteriosclerosis

The leading causes and risk factors for the development of arteriosclerosis are the following:

  • Family predisposition. Not only can the genetic predisposition linked to a family be associated, but also their habits such as sedentary lifestyle or smoking. However, it is undeniable that the appearance of a cardiovascular event before the age of 50 in a first-degree relative makes us suspect the possibility of a certain predisposition in a family.
  • Dyslipidemia. This supposes an alteration in the metabolism of cholesterol so that hypercholesterolemia is directly associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease. LDL cholesterol will be responsible for the progression of atheroma plaque, while high HDL levels have a protective effect on arteriosclerosis.
  • Hypertension. It is an independent factor of great importance since one in three adults suffers from it and, in most cases, without knowing it. Its incidence increases with age, so in recent decades we have witnessed an increase in patients due to an aging population.
  • Diabetes. Especially type II, producing a more extensive, more diffuse arteriosclerosis and greater clinical expressiveness, the more significant number of events. These situations are seen mainly in poorly controlled diabetics. Diabetics tend to have elevated LDL cholesterol, decreased HDL, and hypertriglyceridemia, a highly atherogenic (plaque-forming atheroma) combination.
  • Smoking. It is the most important preventable factor of arteriosclerosis, is directly related to death from cardiovascular causes. The Framingham study already demonstrated an 18% increase in cardiovascular mortality in men and 30% in women smokers. It is related to plaque rupture, with increased heart rate and blood pressure.

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