Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that affects large and medium sized arteries. In developed countries it’s the leading cause of mortality. Pathological changes of the arteries in patients begin to appear as early as age 40. Men are affected by this disease is 3-4 times more often than women. Atherosclerosis affects not only the elderly, but also young people.
Smooth muscle cells of the artery walls grow in atherosclerosis, leading to an accumulation of collagen fibers, proteins, fats, and lime. Symptoms of atherosclerosis are not immediate. With age, the disease can progress. Artery walls become thicker, their elasticity is reduced lumen of the blood vessel narrows. These atherosclerotic changes can be limited (in lesions of arteries of different organs, such as the brain or the heart), and total (with the lesions of the arteries).
When the lumen of the blood vessel narrows, the supply of various organs and tissues of oxygen enriched blood, is disturbed. This leads to the development of various diseases, such as narrowing of the coronary arteries (coronary heart disease, which can cause the angina.)
There are other dangers of atherosclerosis – thrombosis and embolism, which will eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
In the initial stages of atherosclerosis change the inner walls of blood vessels are treated. At a later stage, the disease is incurable, although it is sometimes possible to stop its progression.
Atherosclerosis often affects the blood vessels of the head, heart and feet. There are early signs of atherosclerosis:
- Decline in physical and mental activity.
- Poor circulation.
- Thrombosis. Embolism.
There are many theories to explain the occurrence of atherosclerosis.
The following factors are important in the development of atherosclerosis are: heredity, high content of fats (lipids) in the blood, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, smoking, obesity.
Lipogenic theory. Fats, proteins and other nutrients, which are contained in the blood, nourish the blood vessel wall and the inner layer of the walls of the larger arteries. Factors that stimulate blood flow to the inner layer of the arteries (such as high blood pressure); contribute to fat accumulation, which leads to the development of atherosclerosis.
Mutagenic theory. It is believed that tumor growth of smooth muscle cells in the arteries is caused by mutations, as well as the presence of viruses, chemicals and carcinogens (cancer-causing) substances, which are contained, for example, in cigarette smoke.
Thrombotic theory. Platelets (which involved in the formation of blood clots) cling to the affected locations of blood vessel walls. They produce a substance that stimulates the growth of smooth muscle cells, which eventually leads to a proliferation of smooth muscle cells of the tissue.
- Increased concentration of cholesterol.
- High blood pressure.
- Chronic kidney disease.
- Inflammation of the blood vessels.