More About Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

The Atherosclerosis disease process can go on for many years before the body reacts acutely to the decrease in normal healthy function. Atherosclerotic arteries can lead to Arteriosclerosis as the arteries become hardened, calcified and brittle. Under certain conditions, usually accentuated by blood pressure variation and the dynamic nature of blood flowing through the artery, the brittle, calcified deposits known as calcified plaque can rupture and either partially or completely occlude the vessel.

In the case of a coronary artery, this would cause the blood supply to be drastically reduced or completely cut off to a portion of the heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack or Myocardial Infarction.

Click here to read more about Calcified Arterial Plaque

Heart Attacks for Young and Old

A heart attack can also occur in individuals who's arteries have not succumbed to the Arteriosclerosis or hardening process...something which is often associated with advancing age.

This is why it is unfortunately not as uncommon as you might think for young people in their twenties to suffer from a heart attack. The process of advanced arterial hardening has not yet taken a hold in these individuals but Atherosclerosis...where localized vessel injury, inflammation and accumulation of fatty deposits occur can be very much an active process in young people.

Coronary Artery Thrombus

In the scenario of a younger person or anyone for that matter who has a heart attack and has apparently 'normal looking' coronary arteries, plaque rupture...the 'breaking' of calcified plaque is not the issue or cause of that event but rather the formation of a blood clot or thrombus that can cause a local site blockage in a coronary artery or transport itself along the artery and get lodged downstream causing an occlusion.

What Causes Blood Clots to Form?

In a completely normal artery, endothelial cells release two key substances called nitric oxide (NO) and prostacyclin

  • Prostacyclin prevents clotting, promotes blood vessel dilation and protects against inflammation.
  • Nitric Oxide acts as a vasodilating, Anti-thrombotic and Anti-inflammatory agent while inhibiting the development of smooth muscle in the lining of the artery.

    The Atherosclerosis disease process...which promotes inactive endothelial tissue and the presence of oxidised LDL cholesterol, can impair the release of these important substances which in turn may lead to increased likely-hood of thrombus formation in individuals where this biological imbalance is occurring.

  • In people who have arteries that are diseased with calcified plaque, a plaque rupture event will also trigger a blood clot (thrombus)and a heart attack...where normal blood flow is prevented from reaching the heart muscle.

    Coronary Angiography is a routine test to look for the presence of narrowed and blocked areas in your coronary arteries

    Age is No Protection

    Advancing age is becoming less and less of a critical factor in the sclerotic process of artery disease because certain lifestyle factors such as unhealthy dietary practices which can be present at any age can lead to the interference of nitric oxide and prostacyclin being produced normally and released by the endothelium.

    Scientists now believe that atherosclerosis can begin at a very early age as atherosclerotic changes have been observed in the arteries of very young children in the same way as adult onset diabetes has been showing up in children...something that was previously unheard of until recent times. Arterial changes have also been observed in the autopsy reports of young soldiers involved in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

    Clearly, this is not the normal state of things as early disease processes are likely to lead to early symptom onset and an early manifestation of full-blown disease with the very real likely-hood of shortened life spans.

    There are populations around the world that do not suffer from Atherosclerosis or shortened life spans as a result of what many of us might call common diseases such as heart disease. These people tend to live significantly longer, healthier lives than what is common in most industrialized countries, they are not on medications, nor have they had to undergo expensive, painful and invasive medical procedures to treat their disease...why?

    They don't have the disease...

    Read about these fortunate people who live in the Blue-Zones and learn how you can create your own healthy Blue Zone starting today!

    Click here to read more about Blocked and Diseased Arteries

    Click here to go from Atherosclerosis 2 to Causes of Coronary Heart Disease

    Click here to go from Atherosclerosis 2 to Coronary Heart Health Home Page

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