Atherosclerosis is one of the very common diseases in the adult population across the world. It is the condition where the arteries are clogged by plaque formation and hinders the flow of blood. Oxygenated blood is essential for the functioning of all the vital organs. Without their supply, cells start to die almost instantly. Therefore, if the plaque completely blocks the blood flow it can result in a heart attack or stroke which could be fatal.
Need for being aware of the risk factors
Most people do not have any early symptoms of atherosclerosis. This is dangerous as it could be too late when the person is finally diagnosed. It is after chest pains and attacks that many people become aware of the condition. So, it is necessary to know what are the risk factors for atherosclerosis and what are the chances that you have the condition.
Who is at most risk for atherosclerosis?
Plaque formation in the arteries might start from a very young age. However, its effects are not seen until later ages. Many factors considerably increase the chance of getting atherosclerosis. Knowing them will allow you to be cautious and aware of your health.
The following factors raise the odds of you having atherosclerosis:
a) You are past the age of 50: People above the age of 50 tend to get more affected and need regular health check-ups.
b) Your immediate family has a history of heart attacks: If your immediate family was prone to heart diseases, it greatly increases your chances of having heart disease as well.
c) You have a habit of smoking: Other than causing cancer and tuberculosis, smoking also tends to speed up the process of plaque formation in our arteries. So, if you already have atherosclerosis, smoking will put you at higher risk for heart attack or stroke.
d) High Blood Pressure: Narrowing of the artery walls do you to the plaque formation is what makes atherosclerosis dangerous. If you have high blood pressure, the chances of rupturing of the plaque increases. This could lodge in smaller arteries and can cause a sudden blockage which can result in a heart attack or stroke.
e) Overweight or obesity: Your body has more amount of fat stored when you are obese. This automatically increases the risk.
f) High blood cholesterol levels: It is the cholesterol in our blood that settles in our arteries and causes plaque formation. So, the higher the blood cholesterol levels, the more chances of plaque formation in the arteries.
g) Diabetes: Diabetes has been proven to have a negative impact on atherosclerosis. It slows down the blood flow and causes an increase in inflammation around cholesterol build-up in arteries.
h) High consumption of alcohol: Heavy drinking not only affects your liver but also weakens your heart muscles. The weak muscles are more prone to heart disease, and it considerably increases the chances of a heart attack.
i) Depression and stress: Our mental health is very important to preserve our physical health. Stress and depression can wreak havoc on our physical health. Especially, stress (particularly anger) is one of the common triggers of a heart attack.
Now that you are aware of the risk factors, do a self-assessment. The more of the above factors you have, the higher your risk. To reduce your risk, shift to a healthy lifestyle with proper diet and regular exercise.