Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease affecting the arteries of the body making them less elastic and tighter causing a decrease in blood supply reaching the tissues and organs which could lead to a heart attack, blood clots or a stroke. With approximately a 50 % chance of developing atherosclerosis after the age of 40, it is of high importance to be aware of the disease along with its symptoms, risk factors and more.
Some of the symptoms that occur with atherosclerosis usually include pain, muscle aches, numbness and cramps specially when performing any minor physical exercise. Additionally, when it comes to the risk factors, there are modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors that are important to take note of. The non-modifiable risk factors which are factors that we can’t change, include older age, the male gender, and prior diseases like hypertension and diabetes mellitus.On the other hand, there are modifiable risk factors which include obesity, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet. These factors can be changed by the individual to help decrease the risk of getting atherosclerosis. It is essential to attempt to maintain a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, a balanced diet, weight regulation and management of hypertension and diabetes mellitus.
Following a healthy lifestyle is key to avoiding atherosclerosis and to detect it at an early stage it is important to pay attention to any chest discomfort or pain when performing any physical activity. Furthermore, to diagnose atherosclerosis, the doctor will perform a couple of tests and assessments to validate its presence.
Atherosclerosis itself cannot be cured but it can be properly managed while also reducing the symptoms by controlling the risk factors as well as using different medication and through procedures. Medication is usually prescribed long term to avoid buildup in the arteries and the procedures done are mainly to restore the blood flow to the tissues and organs through open surgeries to create a bypass over the blocked area.
“Nowadays endovascular procedures are done by specialized vascular surgeons due to them being less invasive leading to a decrease in complications. There are highly advanced endovascular procedures that are used for treatment which include intravascular ultrasound, lithotripsy balloons (shockwave) which fragment the atherosclerosis so the artery could be dilated again, atherectomy devices which are used to shave of the diseased part of the arterial wall from inside, restoring its patency and diameter, and the use of balloons and stents that are coated with specific medications that help keep the arteries patent for a longer time.” Dr. Mohamed Okelah, Consultant Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai.
Endovascular procedures are advanced methods used as an alternative to open surgeries leading to numerous benefits which include quicker recovery, fewer complications and risks, smaller incisions and more.
Once the disease is treated, it is essential to put a focus on the after care and management through medication to live a healthy and happy life. The medication prescribed is typically used in preventing blood clots from forming and decreasing the levels of cholesterol and lipids in the body as well as wound care if any originate.