Atherosclerosis Alert!

By. Sheuli Kangsa Banik
(Ph.D. Research Scholar)

As per WHO report, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. CVD is the common term that is used for designating any abnormality in the heart and blood vessels. There are four types of CVD: Coronary Heart Disease, stroke and transient ischaemic attack, peripheral arterial disease, and aortic disease. One of the major causes of CVD is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is defined as the narrowing down of arteries by the development of plague, the plague comprises of cholesterol, fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin. As a piece of plaque breaks off, it may block the arteries and lead to hindered blood flow to the heart, legs, brain, and kidneys.

Symptoms of atherosclerosis:

Chest pain or angina

Pain in your leg, arm, and anywhere else that has a blocked artery

Cramping in the buttocks while walking

Shortness of breath


Confusion, which occurs if the blockage affects circulation to your brain

Loss of motor or sensory function on one side of the body, which occurs if the blockage affects circulation to your brain

Muscle weakness in your legs from lack of circulation

Main causes of atherosclerosis

Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).

Hypertension (high blood pressure).

Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Immune response and inflammation. 

Smoking is a major cause.

Tests to diagnose atherosclerosis

CT scan. 

Echocardiogram (echo). 

Electrocardiogram (EKG). 

Exercise stress test. 

Carotid ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasound

Chest X-ray

Ankle/brachial index


Atherosclerosis treatment


cholesterol-lowering drugs, including statins

angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which may lower blood pressure

beta-blockers, which “rest” the heart

antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin to prevent blood from clotting and clogging your arteries


bypass surgery- involves using a vessel from somewhere else in your body or a synthetic tube to divert blood around your blocked or narrowed artery

thrombolytic therapy- involves dissolving a blood clot by injecting a drug into your affected artery

angioplasty and percutaneous coronary intervention- involves using a catheter and a balloon to expand your artery, sometimes inserting a stent to keep the artery open

atherectomy- involves removing plaque from your arteries by using a catheter with a sharp blade at one end

endarterectomy- involves surgically removing fatty deposits from your artery

Prevention of atherosclerosis

Eat a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt) and sugar.

Exercise regularly. 

Keep a healthy weight.

Manage any health conditions, especially diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Quit smoking.

Have an annual checkup with your primary care provider.

Healthy food choices.

Easing symptoms that are bothering you.

Slowing or stopping plaque buildup in your arteries.

Helping your blood flow better by widening your arteries or bypassing blockages.

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