What is Arteriosclerosis? What are the causes, symptoms, complications and prevention of Arteriosclerosis? Information on Arteriosclerosis.
The disease and its causes
Arteriosclerosis is the name given to the loss of elasticity and the hardening of the arteries of the body. It occurs at all ages but is more truly a degenerative disease, affecting people in the older age group as their bodies begin to wear out. Some men and women have an inherited tendency toward this illness, but it is more likely to be severe in patients with diabetes, sluggish thyroid, and those with high blood cholesterol. Most frequently it affects the arteries supplying blood to the brain, the extremities, and the heart. The aorta (the major artery supplying the body) is also frequently involved.
Cholesterol, saturated fats, and particularly excessive intake of refined carbohydrates such as sugar are believed to play an important role in the development of this disease. Certain diets raise blood cholesterol, cause fat to be deposited on the inner wall of the arteries, and hasten the clotting of blood. Thus, the formation of blood clots may be related to both the arteriosclerosis and the blood changes caused by diets rich in cholesterol. It would seem that diet is important both as a cause and a preventive in the most important form of arteriosclerosis—that involving the primary arteries.
When the disease is generalized there may be few or no symptoms.
Symptoms of the extremities are illustrated in the Medi-Graph. When the brain is involved, there may be decrease in mental activity, loss of memory, dizziness, and confusion. Coronary arteriosclerosis, perhaps the most important form, results when the arteries feeding the heart become so narrowed that sufficient blood cannot get through.
Stroke, heart failure, gangrene of the legs, and the development of blood clots in the larger blood vessels of the body are possible complications.
Much can be done today to delay or control arteriosclerosis. Patients with a family history of high blood cholesterol or blood vessel disorders should be conscious of the importance of diet. They are urged to avoid the overuse of foods rich in refined carbohydrates, such as pies, cakes, and soft drinks, and concentrate on lean meat, fish, milk, and vegetable products.
Smoking should be avoided. Exercise, as prescribed by the physician, should be a routine part of living. The doctor will also prescribe the proper thyroid extract for patients with hypothyroidism and high blood cholesterol. Any underlying disorder that might contribute to the development of arteriosclerosis should be treated promptly. In some cases, where the legs are involved, the diseased artery may be replaced surgically.
Vascular (blood vessel) diseases in diabetics are controlled where possible by treatment of the diabetes itself. For arteriosclerosis occurring without clear-cut contributing disorders, some drugs of limited effectiveness are available to moderate the disease.
***This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a doctor warning or recommendation.