Arteriosclerosis is a disease characterized by damage to the arteries of the cardiovascular system. So, what is the impact of arteriosclerosis?
As a slowly developing disease, most people with arteriosclerosis will not notice the disease until it has entered a relatively advanced stage. Once it reaches that point, the effects can be deadly for patients and require serious lifestyle changes to manage properly.
Currently, there are at least 16 million cases of arteriosclerosis in the United States and at least 5 million stroke victims. These figures suggest that arteriosclerosis is one of the most common diseases today.
Arteriosclerosis is caused by a number of factors. Everything from diet to tobacco use can affect the arteries and through these patients will develop different forms of the devastating illness. The most frequent source of arteriosclerosis is high cholesterol levels. Cholesterol hardens and thickens artery walls until they are no longer elastic enough to support proper blood flow. The effects of cholesterol explain why arteriosclerosis is so often associated with diets high in cholesterol rich foods such as eggs and beef.
Another dietary factor behind arteriosclerosis is sugar consumption. Sugar is known to damage artery walls by stiffening them in a way similar to cholesterol. Diabetes, a disease characterized by the lack of insulin sensitivity and decline of pancreatic function, is commonly associated with arteriosclerosis because of this. Other factors prominent in the development of arteriosclerosis include tobacco smoking, stress, and hereditary factors.
Arteriosclerosis is often found with a number of other diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. There is a feedback loop between arteriosclerosis and these diseases. As a patient develops hypertension and diabetes, he may also find himself experiencing an increase in the symptoms commonly associated with arteriosclerosis.
Treating arteriosclerosis often requires doctors to consider the disease within the context of heart disease in general and the various ways that heart disease might affect patients.
There are a variety of ways that arteriosclerosis might affect a patient. An example of a specific type of arteriosclerosis is arteriolosclerosis. This form of the disease specifically affects small arteries and prevents proper blood flow to them. The various types of arteriosclerosis are found among all sorts of patients, but some forms are more common than others.
Another more common form of arteriosclerosis is atherosclerosis. This involves the build up of plaque in the arteries and the eventual increase in blood pressure it will cause. This results in the frequent symptom of stroke found in patients with arteriosclerosis.
There are a number of ways that doctors can deal with the symptoms and prognosis of arteriosclerosis. To prevent further progress of the disease, a doctor may prescribe drugs to control cholesterol levels or blood pressure. Further preventive care comes in the form of lifestyle changes. Obesity, inactive lifestyles, and other lifestyle factors may exacerbate the symptoms of arteriosclerosis or lead to its onset.
It is important that patients do just about everything they can to prevent arteriosclerosis because its symptoms are simply not reversible and the damage done is exceedingly difficult to fix.
Patients with arteriosclerosis may need to undergo surgery in order to handle the disease. Some of the most common surgeries for arteriosclerosis management include angioplasty, a surgery which involves finding ways to expand the walls of an artery and prevent them from tightening up again, and coronary artery bypass surgery, a way of creating a new pathway to the heart for blood flow.
These methods are reserved as efforts of last resort, but they are able to help patients increase their chances of living a long and productive life with this disease.
The outcome for patients with arteriosclerosis was once quite bleak, but thanks to advancements in technology, patients are able to live longer and more productive lives. Much is known about the prevention of arteriosclerosis, and that often allows doctors to stop the disease before it begins.
Surgery has allowed doctors to intervene in the most severe cases and give patients a much longer life expectancy than ever seen before. All a patient needs to do to improve their life is regularly visit a doctor.