3 Important Treatments for Atherosclerosis

Once the plaques in your arteries are detected, some actions need to be taken to slow or stop the development of atherosclerosis. In general, there are three ways of atherosclerosis treatments: lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery.atherosclerosis stages

  1. Lifestyle changes. As explained earlier in other article (read: 5 Simple Ways to Prevent Atherosclerosis), changing some lifestyle risk factors can inhibit the severity or progression of atherosclerosis. Your efforts to quit smoking, reduce alcohol intake, and exercise regularly may not suddenly clean the plagues that block the arteries, but they are proven to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Controlling your food intake is also a must. Constantly consuming foods high in cholesterol and sugar will put you in a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis. You should change your diet by consuming more foods rich in fiber, omega-3, or other sources of unsaturated fats (good fats). You may also need to restrict the consumption of salt.
  1. Medication is generally aimed to lower the cholesterol levels, manage blood pressure, and prevent blood clot. Proper treatments for the underlying causes of atherosclerosis may significantly slow or even halt the progression of the disease, and thus lower your risk of getting a heart attack and stroke.
  2. Surgery. If blockages occur in important blood vessels, such as those which supply blood to your heart or brain, and cause significant symptoms or limitations for the patients, surgery may be required. However, this method involves a risk of complications that should be discussed further with your doctor. These are some of the surgical procedures:
  •  Coronary angioplasty and stenting. These surgery procedures can be used to open up a blocked artery. In coronary angioplasty, a catheter (a thin, flexible plastic tube) is inserted into a blood vessel, either in your arm or groin. X-ray is used to guide the tip of the catheter to your heart or, so that doctors can access diseased arteries. A balloon that is attached to the catheter is inflated in order to widen the artery. A small metal tube called a stent is often used to help keep the artery open.
  • Bypass surgery. In this surgical technique, healthy blood vessel segments (grafts) are taken from other parts of the body (often from the leg or chest) in order to bypass the blocked artery. Those segments are used to create new channel which enables more blood to get through to the heart muscle.
  • Carotid endarterectomy. This method is commonly used to widen the carotid artery (main artery in your neck). The surgeon will make an incision (cut) into the narrowed part of the artery, and then remove the inner lining of the artery along with any plaque inside it. A patch (could be synthetic or taken from a vein in your thigh) is usually used to reduce the risk of having a stroke after the operation, and prevent the artery becoming narrowed again.


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