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Threats of Blood Vessel Plaque
- Your circulatory system doesn’t always work the way it should
- Atherosclerosis is a big threat caused by blood vessel plaque
- Peripheral Vascular Disease is also a serious result of blood vessel plaque
Your circulatory system consists of the heart, blood vessels and the lymphatic system. The blood vessels of your body make up a closed system of tubes, including arteries and veins, with the heart working as a pump. This system is responsible for performing two major functions: delivering nutrients, oxygen and other vital substances to all tissues in the body and removing waste products and eliminating them from the body.
However, the circulatory system may be subject to various malfunctions. One very common problem is blood vessel plaque. What is plaque? It is the term for the process of cellular waste products, cholesterol, fatty substances, calcium and fibrin building up in the inner lining of an artery. When plague builds up on the insides of blood vessels (arteries) it makes them hard and narrow. The result of the thickening and hardening of the arteries is called Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis comes from the Greek althero meaning gruel or paste and sclerosis meaning hardness. The plaque reduces the flow of oxygenated blood to all parts of the body restricting proper nourishment.
It doesn’t happen overnight, atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease. In some people it may have started in childhood, but it normally progresses quickly in people in their 30’s. For others, it may become threatening when they reach their 50’s or 60’s. Depending on the plaque’s intensiveness and other factors of an individual’s health condition, it may lead to serious problems such as stroke or heart attack.
Sometimes people don’t know that they have atherosclerosis before a heart attack or stroke occurs. The reason is that atherosclerosis might not have any signs or symptoms. Coronary atherosclerosis can affect any artery in the body. It may be present in the arteries of the arms, legs, pelvis, brain, heart or elsewhere. As a result, different diseases may develop based on which arteries are affected. One of them is coronary artery disease. This is when plaque forms in the coronary arteries. These arteries supply the heart with oxygen-rich blood. When blood flow to the heart is reduced, it may lead to chest pain or even a heart attack. Carotid artery disease is another severe manifestation where the plaque builds up on the walls of the carotid arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your brain. When the brain doesn’t get enough blood, it can lead to stroke. Peripheral arterial disease occurs when the major arteries that lead to the extremities are affected by plaque. Some symptoms of peripheral arterial disease might be numbness, tingling or pain in the hands and feet. This can also include dangerous infections as severe as gangrene and an inability to heal properly from wounds. This is also due to the lack of oxygenated blood to the legs, arms, and pelvis. There are many more circulatory diseases, but the main question is what can be done to prevent them?
The best treatment for atherosclerosis is to consult with your healthcare professional to determine the extent of the illness. There are many different medications your doctor may want to prescribe for you. Taking preventive measures yourself can include changing your lifestyle by incorporating a low fat diet, losing weight if necessary, and starting or increasing your exercise activity. If you smoke, ask your physician to recommend a program that will help you quit and avoid starting up again. Be aware that there are some risk factors which you are unable to control, such as age and family history of heart disease. With some good strong willpower and self determination there is much you can do to minimize the risk. These actions along with medical advice and care will help you to live a longer and healthier life.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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