The common term "cholesterol plaques" is called atherosclerosis in medicine. This is a common progressive disease that affects the arteries of the human body due to the accumulation of cholesterol in them, which impedes blood circulation.
Causes of cholesterol plaques
Today, atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death among the population of developed countries. The main factors in the occurrence of cholesterol plaques are: poor condition of the walls of blood vessels, abuse of fatty foods, smoking, alcoholism, physical inactivity, genetic predisposition, chronic diseases (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity), old age and male sex.
Cholesterol is a fat and has very important functions in the body. It is included in the structure of all cells and is involved in the production of hormones. Most of the cholesterol is produced in the liver, and the rest comes from food. In the human body, it is part of lipoproteins (a complex of fats and proteins), and then is transferred from the liver to cells and tissues. Excess cholesterol is deposited in the liver and excreted by the genitourinary system. In the event of a failure of this process, the integrity and barrier function of the inner layer of blood vessels is disrupted, so atherosclerosis develops.
The initial changes occur at about the age of twenty, and reach a peak by the age of forty, when the plaques become critical and life-threatening. Penetrating through the walls of blood vessels, the amount of cholesterol increases, blood vessels narrow, and normal blood flow is impossible. The blood flow to the organs and systems of the human body almost stops, inflammation and blood clots can develop.
Symptoms of vascular atherosclerosis
For a long time, there are no clear signs of the formation of cholesterol plaques, since the vessels compensate for their appearance by bulging outward. However, under the influence of various factors, be it physical activity, hypertension or arrhythmia, atherosclerotic plaques lose stability, and cracks and ruptures appear in the vessels. This is how blood clots develop, provoking vasoconstriction. At this stage, clinical manifestations appear that the patient can already notice.
Depending on the localization of cholesterol plaques in certain arteries, the symptoms and clinical picture are different. With atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries of the heart, angina pectoris or heart attack occurs. If the aorta is affected, then there is heaviness behind the sternum, pressing pains that radiate to the arms, back and neck. With damage to the vessels of the kidneys, the patient develops hypertension.
Fatigue, decreased attention, memory and performance may indicate atherosclerosis of the vessels of the brain. Symptoms such as insomnia and dizziness indicate the progression of the disease, and a complication of cerebral circulation, hemorrhage and thrombosis.
Prevention of the appearance of cholesterol plaques in blood vessels is the exclusion of factors that affect their development. This means that it is necessary to exclude fatty foods from the diet, give up alcohol and smoking, normalize physical activity and avoid stressful situations.
Atherosclerosis is an insidious and sluggish disease, and its complications directly threaten health and life. Therefore, a preventive visit to a doctor, observation and testing once a year is a necessary minimum. This is especially true for people whose predisposition to atherosclerosis is hereditary.