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Are You at Risk for Atherosclerosis?

    Are You at Risk for Atherosclerosis?

    Complications that result from atherosclerosis rank among the top causes of death worldwide. In fact, ischemic heart disease and stroke, which are the top two causes of death globally, are both complications that result from atherosclerosis.

    This is why knowing who is at risk for atherosclerosis helps people take better care of themselves. This can also help them make informed health decisions. But how do you know who is at risk for atherosclerosis?

    Who is at risk for atherosclerosis?

    Atherosclerosis is a disease that can progress slowly, since it results from fatty buildup called plaque, which slowly accumulates over time.

    This is why one of the most common misconceptions about who is at risk for atherosclerosis is that only older people can get it. But some studies have found that even younger people might be at risk for atherosclerosis.

    All You Need To Know About Atherosclerosis

    Atherosclerosis can be caused by a number of factors. And the risk of it can vary depending on a person’s health, lifestyle, and family history.

    One important thing to remember about atherosclerosis is that once you get it, it can no longer be reversed. It can only be controlled, or slowed down. This is why preventing it from happening in the first place is the best way to deal with it.

    People with hypertension

    When it comes to who is at risk for atherosclerosis, someone with hypertension usually comes to mind.

    Having hypertension can cause a lot of stress on a person’s blood vessels. This is because of increased blood pressure. This added strain on the blood vessels has been found to increase the risk of the development of atherosclerosis in a person’s arteries.

    Atherosclerosis and hypertension make for a deadly combination, and people who are diagnosed with atherosclerosis usually already have hypertension, or develop it afterwards.

    These diseases greatly contribute to the risk of stroke and heart attacks, and taking steps to lower the risk of both hypertension and atherosclerosis are very important.

    Those with diabetes

    Diabetes is another condition that can put someone at risk for developing atherosclerosis.

    According to a recent study, diabetes directly contributes to inflammation in a person’s blood vessels. Over time, this inflammation eventually predisposes to plaque buildup in the diseased arteries (atherosclerosis).

    In fact, people with diabetes have twice the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, that’s why people with diabetes need to be extra careful not just when it comes to sugar, but also the fat and cholesterol in the food they eat.

    Those who are overweight or obese

    One thing that atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetes have in common is that being overweight or obese puts a person at high risk for these three conditions.

    Atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetes have a causal relationship with each other. And having one of these conditions puts a person at risk of the other two.

    This is why losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight are very important when it comes to a person’s overall health.

    Obesity: Risk Factors and Prevention Tips

    Those who smoke

    When it comes to who is at risk for atherosclerosis, smokers rank pretty high up in the list.

    Aside from being more prone to lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory problems, smoking has also been known to directly increase a person’s risk of having atherosclerosis. This is because smoking causes inflammation in a person’s blood vessels, which eventually leads to atherosclerosis.

    Additionally, smoking not only affects the person smoking the cigarette, but it also puts other people at risk since inhaling secondhand smoke can also cause the same health problems.

    Age is also a factor

    As a person gets older, the risk for atherosclerosis increases. Since atherosclerosis is a progressive disease, it can slowly build up over time. It might take decades for a person to develop the disease, and once they are old, that’s when it becomes a health problem.

    Someone who is at risk for atherosclerosis might not even experience any symptoms at all initially, then suddenly suffer from a stroke or a heart attack because of their condition when they get older.

    This is why younger people should always be wary of their health, since the decisions they make while they are still young can have a huge impact on their health when they grow older.

    What can you do to lower the risk?

    Now that you know who is at risk for atherosclerosis, the next important thing to know would be what steps you can do in order to minimize the risk of developing this disease.

    Here are some important reminders:

    • Daily exercise can help you lose weight, keep your body healthy. It can also help prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetes. Exercising for at least 30 minutes each day can have a big impact on your health.
    • Eating healthy foods is another way to prevent atherosclerosis and other related illnesses. Eat foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Try to avoid or eat less fatty foods and foods that are high in cholesterol.
    • As you grow older, having a yearly checkup helps you know if you are at risk. Or if you need to take steps in order to lower your risk of atherosclerosis.
    • Smoking is a big risk factor when it comes to atherosclerosis. If you are a smoker, it would be best to quit as soon as possible in order to avoid future health problems.

    Learn more about atherosclerosis, here.


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    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Atherosclerosis https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atherosclerosis Accessed June 29, 2020 Atherosclerosis: Symptoms, Causes https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350569 Accessed June 29, 2020 Atherosclerosis https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atherosclerosis/ Accessed June 29, 2020 Risk Factor for Atherosclerosis https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/risk-factor-for-atherosclerosis Accessed June 29, 2020 Avoiding Atherosclerosis: The Killer You Can't See https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/avoiding-atherosclerosis-the-killer-you-cant-see Accessed June 29, 2020

    Role of Hypertension in Atherosclerosis and Cardiovascular Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/136891 Accessed June 29, 2020

    Young, apparently healthy -- and at risk of heart disease: New study pinpoints hidden thickening of the arteries in young adults https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111025091636.htm Accessed June 29, 2020

    How Diabetes Drives Atherosclerosis https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080313124430.htm Accessed June 29, 2020

    Obesity, Atherosclerosis and Diabetes Mellitus https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-85460-6_107 Accessed June 29, 2020

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    Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Aug 13, 2020
    Medically reviewed by Mike Kenneth Go Doratan, MD