is one of the key factors that contributes to Ischemic Heart Disease. It is the
hardening and narrowing of the inner arterial walls of the arteries, which hinders
the flow of blood to the body.
According to Beckerman, J (2016), arteries are lined by
endothelium, which is a thin layer of cells that acts as a barrier between the
lumen and the surrounding tissues that controls the movement of white blood
cells, in and out of the bloodstream. Atherosclerosis develops with the damage
done to the endothelium. This is caused by high blood pressure, smoking, or high
cholesterol. This leads to plague formation in the arteries.
When bad cholesterol – also known as ‘Low-Density
Lipoprotein’ (LDL), encounters the endothelium that is damaged, the cholesterol
will enter the walls of the arteries. Hence, plague forms and grows as atherosclerosis
advances, narrowing the passage of blood flow (Beckerman, 2016). When the
plague is large enough, it can create a blockage, not allowing the blood to
flow throughout the body. This will not only endanger the heart and putting it
at risk, it will also increase the chances of getting a stroke, a heart attack,
and other health problems (Beckerman, 2016).
Symptoms of atherosclerosis do not usually show until middle
age or older. However, as the passage of blood flow continue to severely narrows,
it can obstruct blood flow and cause pain. It is also possible for the plague
to suddenly rupture, and cause the blood to clot at the site of the rupture in an
artery (Beckerman, 2016).
In ischemic heart disease, the plagues in the arteries of the
heart cause angina (chest pain). A sudden rupture of the plague and clotting of
the blood, cause heart muscle to die. This is known as a heart attack.
Atherosclerosis can worsen over time, but it is preventable.
Once there is a blockage, it will generally stay for life. However, plagues could
stop or slow their growth. With aggressive treatment, they could even shrink a
little. Lessening the risk components will slow or even stop the process. This means
that there is a need of change in lifestyle (Beckerman, 2016). This includes a
healthy diet, exercise, and no smoking. These changes will not remove the blockages,
but they have been proven to lower the risks of heart attack.
Taking medication for high cholesterol and high blood
pressure will slow and could even halt atherosclerosis (Beckerman, 2016). This is
also one of the ways that lower the risks of heart attacks. Aside from
medication, doctors would use invasive techniques to go around, or open the
blockages from atherosclerosis.
One technique would be the angiography and stenting. A thin
tube will be inserted into an artery in the arm or the leg, enabling the
doctors to get to the affected arteries and see the blockages through a live
X-ray screen. Blocked arteries can often be opened by angioplasty – catheters with
balloon tips, and stenting (Beckerman, 2016). Stenting helps to reduce the
symptoms of atherosclerosis, but it can not prevent future heart attacks (Beckerman,
Another technique is – bypass surgery. Surgeons will take a
healthy blood vessel often from the leg or the chest. They will use the healthy
blood vessel to replace the ones that are damaged (Beckerman, 2016). This procedure
can have complications such as – kidney failure and stroke (Beckerman, 2016). Hence,
it is only done when the blockage is too serious to be controlled with
medication or other treatments.