Why worry about atherosclerosis? It is responsible for the 1st, 5th, & 7th leading causes of death in the US. The Chart below contains age-adjusted death rates for the 10 leading causes of death in 2015: United States, 2014 and 2015
Obesity is caused by eating too much or eating and drinking too much on a regular basis. It’s currently an epidemic in this country. Look around you. And those television ads…!!!
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What is atherosclerosis? — Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fatty deposits called "plaques" build up inside the arteries in the body. (Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart out to the body.) Atherosclerosis is the reason most people have a heart attack or a stroke.
Atherosclerosis can affect arteries all over the body. There are different names for atherosclerosis depending on which arteries it affects.
Carotid artery disease is a form of atherosclerosis that affects the carotid arteries, which bring blood to the brain (figure 1). This form of atherosclerosis can lead to stroke.
How does atherosclerosis cause heart attacks, strokes, and other problems? - Atherosclerosis-related plaques can cause problems in 2 ways:
Who is at risk for atherosclerosis? - A person has a higher chance of getting atherosclerosis if he or she:
Will I need tests? — Maybe. Aside from a physical exam, doctors do not typically order tests to check for atherosclerosis in general. Instead, they order tests if they think a patient might have a specific form of atherosclerosis, such as coronary heart disease or peripheral artery disease. The tests for each of these conditions are all very different.
A general test that is often done in people who might have atherosclerosis is called a "lipid profile." This is a blood test that measures the amounts of different forms of fat and cholesterol.
Can the problems caused by atherosclerosis be prevented? - Yes. To reduce your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or related problem, do the following: