Atherosclerosis: Prevention and Treatment


Atherosclerosis is the most common form of arteriosclerosis, which is a general term for several diseases that cause thickening and loss of elasticity of the arterial walls. Atherosclerosis is also the most serious and clinically significant form of arteriosclerosis, as it causes coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease.

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Atherosclerosis can affect all large and medium-sized arteries, including coronary, carotid, and cerebral arteries, the aorta, its branches, and large limb arteries. This disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States and most developed countries. In recent years, age-related mortality due to atherosclerosis has decreased, but in 2015, cardiovascular disease (CVD), main atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries and cerebral vessels, still caused almost 15 million deaths worldwide (Rohde et al., 2019). In 2014,> 800,000 people died from CVD in the United States, which corresponds to almost 1 in 3 deaths (Rohde et al., 2019). The prevalence of atherosclerosis is increasing rapidly in developing countries, and as people in developed countries live longer, the incidence will increase. Atherosclerosis will be the leading cause of death worldwide.

Risk factors

There are a large number of risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis. Certain factors often coincide with metabolic syndrome, which is becoming more common. This syndrome includes abdominal obesity, atherogenic dyslipidemia, arterial hypertension, insulin resistance, and a predisposition to thrombosis and general inflammatory reactions in sedentary patients. Insulin resistance is not synonymous with metabolic syndrome but may play a key role in its etiology (Kang, Keller, & Lin, 2014). The presence of atherosclerotic lesions in any vascular region increases the likelihood of disease in another vascular pool. Patients with non-coronary atherosclerosis have a similar risk of cardiovascular events with patients with the establishment and should receive similar therapy.

Possible consequences

Common symptoms of atherosclerosis include the appearance of pain in the patient behind the sternum, shortness of breath, pain in the head, tinnitus, dizziness, and decreased performance are possible. The patient may experience increased fatigue, and sometimes there is an increase in blood pressure, reduced memory functions, leg pain, numbness of the legs, back pain (Kang et al., 2014). In the later stages of atherosclerosis, the patient may experience memory disorders, senile dementia, disorders in orientation in time and space.

Prevention strategies

The exercise program, including aerobic exercise, has a proven track record in preventing atherosclerosis and reducing body weight. Before embarking on a new exercise program, older people and patients with risk factors or who have recently had ischemia should be examined by a doctor. The examination includes a medical history, physical examination, and assessment of the control of risk factors. In order to prevent atherosclerosis, a balanced diet, exercise, and maintaining water balance are recommended. A diet consisting of low-calorie foods can help at maintaining a normal weight.

Treatment modalities

Treatment involves actively eliminating risk factors to prevent the formation of new plaques and reduce existing ones. Lowering LDL levels below a certain target level is no longer recommended, and currently the “the lower, the better” approach is preferred. Lifestyle changes include diet, smoking cessation, and regular physical activity. Often, medications are needed to treat dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. These lifestyle changes and drugs directly or indirectly improve endothelial function, reduce inflammation, and improve clinical outcomes. Statins can reduce atherosclerosis-related morbidity and mortality, even in patients with normal or slightly elevated total cholesterol (Rohde et al., 2019). Antiplatelet drugs are valid for all patients with atherosclerosis. Patients with coronary heart disease may benefit from the use of ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers.


Kang, J. H., Keller, J. J., & Lin, H. C. (2014). Ischemic bowel disease and risk of stroke: A one-year follow-up study. International Journal of Stroke, 9(8), 1083-1089.

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Rohde, D., Gaynor, E., Large, M., Mellon, L., Hall, P., Brewer, L., … Hickey, A. (2019). The impact of cognitive impairment on poststroke outcomes: A 5-year follow-up. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 32(5), 275-281.

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