This disease damages the heart to the point that it cannot function effectively as a pump, which leads to the death of the patient.Atherosclerosis is a medical term used to describe the accumulation of plaque along the inner walls of an artery. The plaque, which consists of fat, cholesterol and calcium, is deposited over time, eventually blocking the artery.
As the artery progressively narrows, an insufficient quantity of blood reaches the organ resulting in organ dysfunction and eventually organ death.
When this damage happens to the heart muscle it is called a heart attack. When brain tissue dies, this event is called a stroke.
Number One Killer Among Men and Women
According to a 2013 report generated by the American Heart Association, or AHA, heart disease is the No. 1 killer among men and women. By heart disease they mean the blockage of the arteries supplying the nutrients and oxygen to the heart muscle; i.e., atherosclerosis of the heart arteries.
Stroke, another tragedy that usually has atherosclerosis as the underlying cause, is not far behind heart attack when it comes to death and disability.
Minimize the Development of Atherosclerosis
It is fairly obvious that humans would be better off if they could minimize the development of atherosclerosis. As a Cardiac and Vascular Surgeon I operated on blood vessels for 26+ years. Suffice it to say that I saw a lot of atherosclerosis first hand, up close and personal. Throughout this whole time, heart disease was the # 1 killer of Americans, and stoke was not far behind. This is still true today.
Also, during this time the medical profession and dietary experts put forth recommendations to avoid atherosclerosis: low fat diet, low cholesterol diet, use monosaturated fats for cooking, etc. Many fad diets came and went—and still there was no change in heart disease rates and the incidence of atherosclerosis.
There was some good science available pertaining to cholesterol, fats, etc. However, no one paid any attention to it. Only now is some of the truth gaining traction.
Read Part 2 Next Week: Atherosclerosis—How to Avoid It!
Dr. Robert Ruess of Five Star Vein Institute is certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine (ABVLM) and the American Board of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.