Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty deposits called plaque on the inside walls of arteries.
It can lead to clogged arteries in any part of the body.
What to look for
There are usually no symptoms until one or more arteries are so clogged with plaque that blood flow is severely reduced. This reduced flow of blood and oxygen to some part of the body (such as the heart) is called ischemia and may cause pain or discomfort. Some people have no symptoms until a blood clot forms, completely blocks an already narrowed artery, and causes a heart attack or stroke. The symptoms you have depend on which arteries are badly clogged and what part of the body is affected by the reduced flow of blood.
The exact causes of atherosclerosis are not clear. Too much cholesterol in the blood, damage to the artery wall, and inflammation appear to play important roles in plaque buildup. Researchers are studying why and how the arteries become damaged, how plaque develops and changes over time, and why plaque can break open and lead to blood clots. There may be other factors that prove to be important in causing atherosclerosis.
One of the most important ways to have healthier arteries is to make lifestyle changes. Adopt a healthy diet, balance healthful eating with regular physical activity, don't smoke, and lose weight if you are overweight. If you have high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, follow your treatment plan. Making lifestyle changes can also help control these health problems.
When to seek further professional advice
If you think you have Atherosclerosis or are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms.
Alternative therapies that focus on diet and lifestyle can help prevent, or reverse atherosclerosis. Herbal therapies that may be helpful include: hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), notoginseng root (Panax notoginseng), garlic (Allium sativum), ginger (Zingiber officinale), hot red or chili peppers, yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and alfalfa (Medicago sativum). Relaxation techniques including yoga, meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, and counseling and other "talking" therapies may also be useful to prevent or slow the progress of the disease. Dietary modifications focus on eating foods that are low in fats (especially saturated fats), cholesterol, sugar, and animal proteins and high in fiber and antioxidants (found in fresh fruits and vegetables). Liberal use of onions and garlic is recommended, as is eating raw and cooked fish, especially cold-water fish like salmon. Smoking, alcohol, and stimulants like coffee should be avoided. Chelation therapy, which uses anticoagulant drugs and nutrients to dissolve plaque and flush it through the kidneys, is controversial. Long-term remedies can be prescribed by specialists in ayurvedic medicine, which combines diet, herbal remedies, relaxation and exercise, and homeopathy, which treats a disease with small doses of a drug that causes the symptoms of the disease.
Medicines are usually the first step in treating cardiovascular diseases. Other treatments include angioplasty procedures to open up clogged arteries and surgery, such as bypass surgery. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high blood cholesterol, these conditions can be treated as well. Lowering your blood cholesterol level can slow, stop, or even reverse the buildup of plaque. Cholesterol lowering can reduce the cholesterol content in unstable plaques to make them more stable and less prone to rupture.
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