Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to organs throughout the body. Atherosclerosis is known as the hardening of arteries.
Fat, or cholesterol, builds up in the inner lining of the arteries and creates plaque. When arteries are blocked by plaque, the blood can no longer flow properly, which causes serious health problems.
Diseases vary depending on where the blocked artery is supposed to carry the blood.
If the arteries are leading to the legs or arms, it will cause peripheral artery disease. This makes appendages less sensitive to temperature; in turn, people are more prone to burns or frostbites.
It also creates poor circulation and makes infections heal slower. Tissue death, like gangrene, can develop and result in amputations.
If the arteries that carry blood to the heart are blocked it will cause chest pain or irregular heartbeats. Blood clots may also develop and will eventually cause a heart attack, which can be deadly.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms may also occur from atherosclerosis. Since the blood does not supply its appropriate amount of nutrients, cells will die without oxygen. As the cells die, the blood vessels will become weaker.
Increased pressure, wall tension, and the strength of the vessels themselves will cause the wall to dilate and enlarge. Eventually enough tension and dilation will cause the wall to burst.
An aneurysm not only causes a drop in blood pressure and signs of shock but also internal bleeding.
People need to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent atherosclerosis from occurring. Eating foods low in cholesterol, exercising regularly, not smoking, and controlling high blood pressure are all important.