What Is Hardening Of The Arteries?

by R.D. Hawkins - Date: 2010-06-05 - Word Count: 494 Share This!

Heart disease is one of the biggest health concerns facing all of us and knowing what is hardening of the arteries, and taking steps to prevent it, could spare us from being just another one of the estimated 1.5 million Americans who have a heart attack each year. To drive home this point, according to the American Heart Association hardening of the arteries accounts for nearly three out of every four heart attack deaths. So if you have a few minutes why don't we get started in exploring what is hardening of the arteries.

What is hardening of the arteries - The beginning and evolution of the disease

Hardening of the arteries begins when the lining of the artery walls sustain damage from some type of stimulus. Common examples of conditions and actions that might trigger the beginnings of this condition are elevated blood cholesterol levels, smoking, inactivity, or high blood pressure.

When damage is done to interior lining of the artery the body does what it always does and that is to try to repair the damaged area. To accomplish this white blood cells are sent to the area in question while at the same time the damaged walls start to accumulate fat which stimulates the smooth muscle cells of the arteries to multiply. At this point clot producing platelets collect over the site, trapping even more blood cells, white blood cells, cholesterol and other fat particles. The witches brew of waste material that piles up on top on the damaged area is known as arterial plaque. At this point our potentially dangerous plaque deposit may start to develop a thick coving of calcium which is the final step in the evolution and development of hardening of the arteries.

What is hardening of the arteries - What happens next?

Have you ever tried to blow up a beach ball or float which has such a tiny little hole to blow air through that when you attempted to fill it up you turned red in the face and get a little dizzy? Most of us have experienced something along these lines, and when you have hardening of the arteries your heart is placed under the same type of pressure having to work harder to get the job done. The smaller the opening the harder your heart must work to deliver life giving oxygen and blood.

Additionally, if the plaque deposit ruptures, a clot can form at the site and obstruct blood flow, which prevents tissue from getting enough oxygen and can results in what is known in medical terms as a myocardial infarction. Alternatively, a sliver of plaque can splinter off from the primary plaque deposit, traveling through the bloodstream until it either finds its way out of the body, or lodges in a smaller artery creating a dangerous embolism.

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