Atherosclerosisis one of the key factors that contributes to Ischemic Heart Disease. It is thehardening and narrowing of the inner arterial walls of the arteries, which hindersthe flow of blood to the body.
According to Beckerman, J (2016), arteries are lined byendothelium, which is a thin layer of cells that acts as a barrier between thelumen and the surrounding tissues that controls the movement of white bloodcells, in and out of the bloodstream. Atherosclerosis develops with the damagedone to the endothelium. This is caused by high blood pressure, smoking, or highcholesterol.
This leads to plague formation in the arteries. When bad cholesterol – also known as ‘Low-DensityLipoprotein’ (LDL), encounters the endothelium that is damaged, the cholesterolwill enter the walls of the arteries. Hence, plague forms and grows as atherosclerosisadvances, narrowing the passage of blood flow (Beckerman, 2016). When theplague is large enough, it can create a blockage, not allowing the blood toflow throughout the body.
This will not only endanger the heart and putting itat 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 middleage 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 plagueto suddenly rupture, and cause the blood to clot at the site of the rupture in anartery (Beckerman, 2016).
In ischemic heart disease, the plagues in the arteries of theheart cause angina (chest pain). A sudden rupture of the plague and clotting ofthe 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 couldstop or slow their growth.
With aggressive treatment, they could even shrink alittle. Lessening the risk components will slow or even stop the process. This meansthat there is a need of change in lifestyle (Beckerman, 2016). This includes ahealthy 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 bloodpressure will slow and could even halt atherosclerosis (Beckerman, 2016). This isalso one of the ways that lower the risks of heart attacks. Aside frommedication, doctors would use invasive techniques to go around, or open theblockages from atherosclerosis.
One technique would be the angiography and stenting. A thintube will be inserted into an artery in the arm or the leg, enabling thedoctors to get to the affected arteries and see the blockages through a liveX-ray screen. Blocked arteries can often be opened by angioplasty – catheters withballoon tips, and stenting (Beckerman, 2016). Stenting helps to reduce thesymptoms of atherosclerosis, but it can not prevent future heart attacks (Beckerman,2016). Another technique is – bypass surgery. Surgeons will take ahealthy blood vessel often from the leg or the chest. They will use the healthyblood vessel to replace the ones that are damaged (Beckerman, 2016).
This procedurecan have complications such as – kidney failure and stroke (Beckerman, 2016). Hence,it is only done when the blockage is too serious to be controlled withmedication or other treatments.