What Is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death and disease in Western countries and may result in heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disease affecting the arteries that supply freshly pumped blood throughout the body. It is defined as the build up of cholesterol-containing plaque in and around blood vessel walls, which stiffen and harden over time. These build ups can either rupture and clot or completely block blood flow through an artery. Both results can be detrimental and lead to serious complications.
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis
Although Atherosclerosis symptoms are hard to pinpoint early on and only become noticeable when it severely hardens and narrows your arteries, there are a few tell-tale signs to be aware of such as plaque buildup or white blood cells on the artery wall. Symptoms, when apparent, depend on where the plaque formation exists. Chest pain may accompany plaque build up near the heart, while arm or leg pain could signal build up in the upper and lower extremities.
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What Causes Atherosclerosis?
Poor dietary patterns, smoking and high blood pressure are the main causes of atherosclerosis. For the most part, these causes vary from person to person and are highly modifiable. Diets high in saturated fats, sugar and cholesterol promote plaque build up in the arteries. Individuals consuming a high saturated fat diet lack the vitamins and healthy fats to combat cardiovascular disease. Diabetes and obesity are also contributing factors towards developing atherosclerosis. Smoking damages blood vessels and contributes to plaque build up by increasing blood-clotting factors. High blood pressure increases the strain on arteries, which can lead to weak or ruptured blood vessels.
There are many ways to test for atherosclerosis. Here are a few steps that can be taken:
- Testing the blood for abnormal amounts of fats, cholesterol and sugar
- Electrocardiograms (EKG) tests for issues with heart rhythm or signs of a heart attack
- Stress tests, which are usually on a treadmill, to measure heart functions when exercising
- Echocardiogram (echo) tests for the amount of blood pumped by the heart
How to Prevent Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis must be treated in order to prevent complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or heart failure. Preventative measures are the best way to avoid atherosclerosis, but if you have already been diagnosed there are several conventional and integrative modifications that can be made:
- Controlling blood pressure
- Increasing healthy, whole grains in the diet
- Smoking cessation can all yield a positive outcome
Atherosclerosis Treatment Options
Aligned Modern Health can help promote and maintain these heart-health living habits and get you on your way to feeling better.
Utilizing functional medicine to understand the underlying causes of your concerns, our providers take a comprehensive approach to your health goals. A functional medicine treatment plan will aim to help lower the risk of blood clots forming and prevent atherosclerosis-related diseases, while boosting your overall health to restore optimal functioning in your body.
Our functional medicine physicians are experts in clinical nutrition and work along side registered dietitians to help recommend a heart healthy dietary plans. This approach is always individualized for your body’s unique health needs. Our integrative practice also includes acupuncture which can to help lower blood pressure and increase overall wellness.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
We are devoted to assisting you in overcoming disease using an integrative and functional approach to wellness. To learn more, request an appointment for a complimentary consultation today!
Please fill out the form to request an appointment at our health and wellness center for the service and location of your preference. We try to get back to all requests as quickly as possible. If you need immediate assistance, please call 773-598-4387.
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