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Can Heart Disease Be Prevented and Reversed?

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What Are The Symptoms And Preventive Measures Of Atherothrombosis?

Atherothrombosis is commonly a disease of older adults mainly because of the eventual buildup of deposits and the wear and tear on the blood vessels. This process may be accelerated in people who have uncontrolled risk factors and can also happen to younger adults.

Atherothrombosis of the arterial blood supply to the lower limbs can lead to an occlusion of the blood vessel, known as peripheral arterial disease or PAD. The blood supply to the segment that is supplied by the artery concerned is cut-off. This can lead to the cut-off of supply of nutrients to the area. If infection sets in, the area which is already dead will have to be amputated to prevent the infection from spreading to the other parts of the body. Otherwise, the life of patient could be in danger.

For PAD, A doctor can perform a simple test to get the “ankle-brachia index”, which is obtained by measuring the blood pressure at the ankle and the forearm. If the ankle-brachia index is less than 0.9, it would imply that there is significant peripheral vascular disease.

Atherothrombosis may be silent during the early and milder stage of the disease. There may be no symptoms until the degree of narrowing in the blood vessel reaches a critical point. Blood vessels are everywhere in the body and the signs of atherothrombosis depends on which blood vessels are most affected.

The major signs of atherothrombosis include symptoms of poor circulation in the legs (aches in the legs when walking a certain distance, bluish discoloration of the toes, etc.), poor circulation to the heart (chest pains on exertion, shortness of breath, etc.), and poor circulation to the brain (transient or permanent stroke symptoms like sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, problems with speech, unsteadiness, etc.). All of these symptoms may be gradual, intermittent or sudden in occurrence.

Treatment is by control of the modifiable risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, and by taking medication that prevents progression of blockages in the blood vessels.

The best way of protecting oneself from atherothrombosis is through a healthy lifestyle.

Regular physical activity of moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes for most days of the week is recommended. Besides its beneficial effects on blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, it is evident that regular exercise also reduces “stickiness” of blood.

Heavy alcohol intake is always associated with increased risk of stroke and heart attack. It is recommended that those who drink heavily should cut down on the amount of drinking to at most two servings per day.

Any amount of smoking can increase the risk of having a stroke and heart attack by 2 or 3 times. Smoking is also directly linked to disease of blood vessels in the legs. This disease may affect the circulation of blood in the lower limbs. It takes about 2 to 4 years after smoking cessation before one’s risk goes back down to that of someone who never smoked. The goal is to completely stop smoking. Not even a few sticks of cigarettes a day is acceptable.

A high-fiber and low-cholesterol diet is highly recommended as it is beneficial in reducing blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity.



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