Coronary Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the name given to the gradual buildup of plaque that occurs in the arteries' inner lining that causes the arteries to narrow and harden.

The materials that build up causing the plaque to form include fatty substances, cellular waste products, calcium, cholesterol and fibrin, which is one of the clotting materials found in blood. When the arteries affected by the buildup of the fatty plaque deposits are those that supply the heart with blood, the doctor will diagnose coronary atherosclerosis.

symptoms
Often a person with coronary atherosclerosis is unaware of the condition because there are no symptoms. Symptoms usually show up only after the condition has progressed in severity and blood flow is restricted to the heart. Because the heart is not receiving enough oxygen due to the restricted blood flow, chest pain or a heart attack can occur. Some people do experience early symptoms including shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, weakness, dizziness, nausea and sweating.

Risk factors
There are eight highly recognized risk factors of coronary atherosclerosis.

These factors are
elevated levels of LDL cholesterol,
smoking cigarettes,
high blood pressure,
obesity,
diabetes mellitus,
family history of heart attack
or coronary heart disease before age 55,
a sedentary lifestyle
and low levels of HDL cholesterol.

There are also less recognized risk factors for coronary atherosclerosis, including small sized LDL cholesterol particles in the blood, abnormally high levels of Lipoprotein A and elevated levels of homocysteine.

Treatments
Once the damage of coronary atherosclerosis has occurred, medications may relieve some of the symptoms but are unable to reverse the damage. Often coronary artery bypass surgery, balloon angioplasty and stent placement are necessary to remove the buildup of plaque.

Preventing Coronary Atherosclerosis
Medical professionals agree that the best method of preventing coronary atherosclerosis is through early education. This education should start in childhood and continue throughout adolescence forming lifetime healthy habits. Learning proper diet and nutrition at an early age, combined with an understanding of the importance of regular exercise and a healthy active lifestyle, will help lower the incidence of coronary atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the name given to the gradual buildup of plaque that occurs in the arteries' inner lining that causes the arteries to narrow and harden.

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