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Information on Atherosclerosis

General Information

Atherosclerosis is a common disease of major blood vessels involving the hardening of arteries. Atherosclerosis causes fatty streaks along blood vessel walls with deposits of cholesterol and calcium. Coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis of arteries supplying the heart restricting the flow of blood increasing the risk of heart attacks. Intermittent claudication is a condition caused by atherosclerosis characterized by leg pains after walking short distances.

Who is at risk of atherosclerosis?

People with high cholesterol are far more likely to have atherosclerosis than people with lower cholesterol levels. Many popular nutritional approaches to combat atherosclerosis aim to treat it by lowering serum cholesterol levels. People with diabetes, elevated triglyceride levels, and high homocysteine are also at higher risk of atherosclerosis.

What are the symptoms of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis typically has no symptoms until the later stages. Some people with atherosclerosis may experience chest pains (angina) or leg cramps (intermittent claudication) after short periods of exertion. These and other similar symptoms may develop gradually as the disease progresses. Obesity, rage, aggression, and stress are all associated to atherosclerosis as causes and/or symptoms.

How can I prevent/treat atherosclerosis?

Changes in your diet are a great first step in protecting arteries from atherosclerosis. Avoid eating meat, dairy fat, and foods that contain trans fatty acids. Eating foods high in fiber, especially oast, psyllium seeds, fruit, and beans, may also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Exercise and stress reduction may also decrease the risk of atherosclerosis. Smoking is generally accepted in the medical community to be linked directly to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Quitting smoking is a critical step in the process of atherosclerosis prevention.
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