Atherosclerosis: Development and Natural History

People with diabetes are prone to develop atherosclerosis, which is often called “hardening of the arteries.”  The hardening isn’t so bad; the problem is that the arteries develop obstructive plaques that impair the flow of life-sustaining blood to living tissues.

Actually, almost everybody will develop atherosclerosis eventually.  But it’s better to get it when you’re 120 instead of 50 years old.  Atherosclerosis causes most heart attacks, half of all strokes, and poor blood flow to the legs.

Diabetes accelerates the process of atherosclerosis, especially if the diabetes is poorly controlled.

The American Journal of Medicine in January this year published a supplement (volume122, number 1A) entitled “Management of Atherosclerosis: A Practical Guide in 2008.”  William Insull, Jr., M.D., wrote a chapter on development and natural history of atherosclerosis.  I summarized it at the Heart Health Blog at today.

Did you know that atherosclerosis starts in childhood?  Find the details at NutritionData.

The good news is that we can modify risk factors for atherosclerosis, such as diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and poor diet, thereby preventing the heart attack or stroke in a 57-year-old.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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