Atherosclerotic Heart Disease

Heart diseases are on a definite rise and with growing complexities; prevention is perhaps the best cure. So the question is how to prevent a heart disease? Obviously one would have to watch their diet but that is simply not enough. Because although one may have a normal cholesterol level and normal blood pressure, yet there are other types of possible heart failure or damages that the human heart is suffering from. Also, although its good, in fact great to lose weight, but that does not mean that you are free from heart disease.

An example of which is former US president Bill Clinton who although had lost weight and used to take cholesterol lowering pills, yet suffered a heart attack and eventually needed by-pass surgery. Two lessons can be learnt from what the former president experienced. One, being you can't just start paying attention to your diet; you need to always try and eat healthy. If you have a history of bad eating habits, it's a good idea to fix them and a great idea to get yourself checked out. And two if you've been on cholesterol control pills don't just stop taking them. The reasons for this are simple. Once a person has achieved a normal cholesterol level, their tests will appear fine, and here I am talking about your regular blood test. But there is something else that's very sinister and it built up while you weren't paying attention to what you were putting in your mouth. And that something is Plaque. (no don't look at your teeth, it on your arteries)This building up of plaque and eventual narrowing of the arteries is known as Atherosclerotic Heart disease (AHD).

So where does he plaque come from? The plaque is actually fatty material that has built up along the walls of your arteries. Initially it's soft and thus known as soft plaque. This is easily treatable but when the plaque begins to harden, and becomes known as hard plaque, it begins to pose a serious threat. And before you decide to take another cigarette because you know there is no fat in it, I suggest you think again. Because smoking will definitely cause the soft plaque to transform into hard plaque more rapidly. The plaque most often develops at turn or curve points where the flow of blood is more pressurized. This plaque can rapture without warning or showing any symptoms and may cause blood to clot. The blood clot if big enough may restrict the flow of blood and cause heart failure.

The leading cause of AHD is injury to the artery wall. And this injury occurs when the artery is under too much pressure. At this point the artery is physically under stress. Its working a lot harder and getting hurt. Like when we run too fast or too much when we're not used to it, and our muscle cramp, similarly the artery too gets hurt when it works under high pressure. Unlike our leg muscles however, it will not heal will just simple rest. The injured artery then creates signals which cause a certain type of white blood cell known as monocytes and T-cells to deposit themselves on the artery. Eventually they will move into the artery and start collecting cholesterol and fatty material. Eventually they will start collecting calcium as well and things will get uglier.

So as I said before, prevention! Keep your blood and cholesterol normal and pay regular visits to the doctor. Even if you think you're not at risk, have an angiogram. You may be able to find some soft plaque and treat it while its soft.