Consequences of Atherosclerosis

Last time, I talked about atherosclerosis and how it’s caused. This week I’ll be talking about different consequences that can occur due to atherosclerosis. 

The first is called a myocardial infarction or MI, which is known to most people as a heart attack. Heart attacks are occur when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked for enough time that some heart muscle is damaged or dies. This can be caused by plaque that breaks off of an arterial wall and blocks the flow or by a slow buildup of plaque that eventually blocks blood flow. 

stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to part of the brain is blocked. Brain cells begin to die after a few minutes without oxygen. This causes symptoms such as sudden weakness, numbness in the face, arms, and legs, slurred speech and blurry vision.

The illustration shows how an ischemic stroke can occur in the brain. If a blood clot breaks away from plaque buildup in a carotid (neck) artery, it can travel to and lodge in an artery in the brain. The clot can block blood flow to part of the brain, causing brain tissue death.

Another is CHD or coronary heart disease. This disease is atherosclerosis located in specific arteries, the coronary arteries. This can eventually lead to heart attacks or more serious conditions.

PVD or peripheral vascular disease occurs when plaque is built up in arteries anywhere in the body other than the heart or the brain. The most common plaque buildups in this disease occur in the limbs.

The illustration shows how P.A.D. can affect arteries in the legs. Figure A shows a normal artery with normal blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of the normal artery. Figure B shows an artery with plaque buildup that's partially blocking blood flow. The inset image shows a cross-section of the narrowed artery.

The last is CHF or congestive heart failure. This is the end stage of heart disease. It occurs when enough heart muscle cells die to make the heart too weak to complete the pumping action to provide blood to the rest of the body.

The main symptom of heart disease is called angina, which is pain in the chest, shoulders, or neck caused by a decreased oxygen-rich blood supply. There are two types called unstable and stable angina. Stable angina is the most common which is characterized by the regular pains in the chest, neck, or shoulders during exercise or other physical exertion. Unstable angina is less common and more dangerous which is characterized by sharp pains in the chest, neck, or shoulders that occur randomly without physical exertion. This type should be immediately treated.

To view the information presented or for more information regarding heart disease, visit http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

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3 Responses to Consequences of Atherosclerosis

  1. I like your blog, it is very informative and nicely put together. As a person who has heart disease in their family and those currently dealing with heart related issues I am always looking for information and ways to be aware of what is going on, and your blog does just that! I do wish that you put a bit more information about yourself and why you are so interested in the heart, even though you mentioned it during your presentation, this way others who visit will know and can connect.b I look forward to your future posts, nicely done!

  2. Chris Boyle says:

    Good article Brendan. I had to do a lot of research on heart disease for my topic since cardiovascular health is the main benefit of the Mediterranean diet. I wish I had seen your blog before I wrote my paper, it would have been helpful.

  3. I find that the information you present in your blog really flows from one post to the next. It’s simply written and free of excess information that could confuse other readers- nicely done! Bolding the terminology also helped me find the definitions of the terms, which was very helpful. I don’t have a history of heart disease in my family, so reading this blog has taught me a lot!

    If you don’t mind, a suggestion or two: I’d like to see a few sentences in a future post of why you are interested in heart disease. During your speeches you told us, but future readers wouldn’t have been in class with us. Also, the diagrams are great, but maybe a caption of what it is a diagram of could help carry readers along- I had to read the graphs’ data before I fully understood what I was looking at.

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