Understanding Atherosclerosis

Understanding Atherosclerosis

There are so many factors that fight against your health; the food you eat, your activity level, and your family history are just a few. High cholesterol is one of those factors that could be hereditary and leads to significant health concerns. For example, it can lead to a buildup of plaque in your arteries, which causes atherosclerosis.

At Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants, our amazing team helps you when you’ve been diagnosed with atherosclerosis. Our expert cardiologist, Dr. Erick Calderon, offers treatments if you have atherosclerosis or if you’ve suffered a complication due to this disease. Read on to understand more about this condition and how you can avoid possibly life-threatening consequences.

Causes of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is when the arteries in your body harden and become blocked off. Usually, your arteries are lined with a smooth layer, known as the endothelium. The endothelium layer allows your arteries to keep their round shape and allows blood to move fluidly from your heart throughout your body.

But your endothelium can become damaged, which leads to your arteries becoming rigid. This may lead to decreased blood flow through the vessels, due to a buildup of a substance known as plaque.

Atherosclerosis is a dangerous condition that if left untreated, leads to major health problems. So what exactly is the cause of this problem in your arteries? Several of the most common causes of atherosclerosis include:

High cholesterol is another common culprit behind atherosclerosis. You’re at a much higher risk of developing this disease if you have one or more of the above conditions. Family history also plays a role in atherosclerosis, so it’s important to know if you’re at risk.

Atherosclerosis is serious and often leads to life-threatening complications. Understanding the causes and risk factors may help you avoid serious health problems.

Complications of atherosclerosis

Your arteries are vital to oxygenated blood being transported from your heart to every area in your body. As you can imagine, when they’re compromised, you can suffer a lot of problems, which include:

A stroke or heart attack are two of the most common complications of atherosclerosis. Both of these conditions are very serious and may be life-threatening. 

Unfortunately, in most cases, you don’t have symptoms of atherosclerosis until it’s in the advanced stages. Sometimes the first clue you have this disease is suffering from one of the above complications.

Can it be treated?

Once you have atherosclerosis, the plaque sticks around. However, you can keep it from getting worse, which helps decrease the chances you’ll suffer serious complications.

The goal of treatment for this condition is to slow the progression of the narrowing in your arteries and keep the harmful plaque from building more. This is achieved through lifestyle changes such as:

While lifestyle changes are important, they aren’t always enough. Sometimes, you need medications to help you control your diabetes or blood pressure. A low-dose aspirin once a day can also decrease your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke due to a clot.

While conservative measures help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis getting worse, sometimes you need more aggressive treatment. Dr. Calderon performs an angioplasty or stent placement when your atherosclerosis is severe.

Both of these procedures work to open up your blocked artery and allow blood to flow better throughout these vessels. Both of these procedures are invasive but are sometimes necessary to keep you from suffering a life-threatening complication. 

If you’re concerned you have atherosclerosis and want to get a jump on treatment, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Calderon at our office in Sarasota County, Florida. You can also reach out and request an appointment online.

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