Atherosclerosis & Plaque BuildupAtherosclerosis is simply defined as plaque build up in the arteries. Sure it’s more complex than that but that is the root of the matter. The term atherosclerosis refers to the hardening of the arteries due to the plaque buildup and the plaque buildup in arteries is basically caused by fat deposits which form due to an injury to the innermost layer of the blood vessels, the endothelium. Once the endothelium is damaged fatty plaques can then start to build up in the arteries. Without the damage however these plaques will not generally form. So what then causes the fat deposit and resulting plaque buildup?
Primary Causes of Fat Deposits in Arteries• Cholesterol
• Scar Tissue, and
• Calcium Deposits
How Does Plaque Build Up in the ArteriesPlaque builds up in the arteries generally due to what is in your blood stream at any given time. Toxins and blood sugar levels have a part in damaging the endothelium while inflammation and high blood pressure can expedite it.
We have all heard of bad cholesterol (LDL). This is the cholesterol which builds up on the artery walls and is generally first thought of as plaque. The good cholesterol (HDL) is also generally known to escort bad cholesterol out of the arteries so that these plaques do not form as easily. When there is an excess of LDL cholesterol it does not get pulled out of the body quickly enough and the excess enters the damaged arterial walls and settles. This is the simplest way that plaque buildup in arteries occurs.
Note: If you are interested check out these handy articles on how to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. Both of these activities in combination will help prevent plaque buildup in arteries and help you live longer in the long run.
The plaque buildup also occurs while the damage is being repaired. The inflammation associated with the repair often invites further plaque accumulation in the wound and eventually the scar tissue forms and locks in the plaque deposits until further arterial damage occurs.
Healing Arteries Lock in Plaque BuildupThe problem with this process is that the healing of the wound has now created a plaque buildup under the endothelium which, if big enough, could slow the blood supply to the body down the line. The heart easily comes to mind because when it does not get the blood due to a blockage then a heart attack occurs. Generally though, the blockage will not get big enough for a long time and will only occur after multiple wounds and healings.
Because plaque buildup in arteries feeds further arterial damage it is imperative that you make sure you avoid damaging your arteries in the first place because the blockages will likely come back to haunt you in your middle ages and later life. Living a longer life pretty much requires healthy arteries free from plaque buildup.
Unfortunately, however this is not always the case in real life as heart disease is the number one cause of death in the nation and the bulk of it all happens because of atherosclerosis and plaque buildup in arteries caused by poor dietary choices, low activity levels, and less than healthy personal lifestyle choices such as smoking tobacco.