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12 Risk factors for atherosclerosis you should know

by egpat       05-12-2017

Elevated cholesterol levels – an alarm, many of us well familiar that something happens bad to the body. That’s why they are well known as bad cholesterol. But they are not so bad without these risk factors for atherosclerosis.

Yes, suppose a patient has a small elevated cholesterol levels without any other risk factors, the probability of getting atherosclerosis is somewhat less and the condition can be controlled by life style management, diet control and other medications if required.

It doesn’t mean that patient has absolutely no complete risk, but relatively the condition can be restored easily with proper management.

But the same condition in a patient with any single or multiple risk factors for atherosclerosis should be considered as more significant for its development and risk for other cardiac diseases.



For example, if a healthy male patient aged around 25 years will have less chance of developing atherosclerosis with a slight elevation of lipid levels.

On other hand, the same elevated levels if found in male patient with age around 50 years, the chance of atherosclerosis is more possible requiring close monitoring of lipid levels.

If suppose the same patient has any family history of heart diseases, he will have still more risk all adding up for stringent treatment in the patient.

So according to the total risk factors a patient have, the probability of atherosclerosis and cardiac events like heart attack or myocardial infarction in the coming next 5 to 10 years can be assessed.

That’s why all these risk factors for atherosclerosis should be properly managed to prevent cardiac disease in future.

You should remember that whatever the risk factors for atherosclerosis we are discussing here can produce the disorder only if they are associated with elevated levels of cholesterol levels particularly with LDL cholesterol.

In another words, these risk factors are neither directly involved in atheroma formation nor produce it in patients with lipids under control.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis

1. Hypertension

Can you guess what happens when blood flows through a vessel at high pressure for several years?

Yes, the inner wall of the blood vessel gets more pressure waves but due to elastic nature it can withstand these waves dampening the pressure.

But it is for how much time? It’s not the matter of single day or month. It’s for several years.



So in chronic hypertension, these blood vessels slowly lose their elasticity and become hardened setting a stage for atherogenesis.

If in these patients, cholesterol levels are not adequately controlled, it can lead to atherosclerosis.

2. Obesity

This risk factor is somewhat reasonably associated with atherosclerosis.

Those who have overweight may have a chance of high cholesterol levels in the body, but not always.

Obesity may produce extra load on blood vessels and heart which can stand as one of the risk factors for atherosclerosis.

3. Diabetes

Do you have more blood sugar levels?

Have your blood sugar levels are not controlled regularly?

Then you will have more risk for atheroma formation than people with normal blood sugar levels.

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder which can open the pathway for many cardiovascular disorders if not controlled well.

Patients suffering with type 2 diabetes may have disorders of eye, heart, kidney and neurons on long term.

Insulin resistance can also increase the risk for cardiovascular disorders in the patients.

4. Lipid rich diet

Fatty foods and diet rich in high levels of lipids always act as one of the risk factors for atherosclerosis due to elevated serum cholesterol levels.

Of course this factor can be easily modified by restricting the diet for lipid content replacing it with a balanced diet rich in fibers.

Large intake of carbohydrates can also increase the lipid levels in the body. This is one of the common problems in diet control where people may decrease intake of lipids in exchange to this they take large of carbohydrates which finally result in increased lipid levels.

5. Lack of exercise

Again this is one of modifiable risk factors for atherosclerosis.

Patients having less exercise, sedentary life style and working culture with less mobility for longer hours all can cause build up of fats in the body.

Without any significant physical activity, these fats are not completely utilized for energy and may accumulate in the body elevating serum cholesterol levels.

That’s why regular walking or any physical exercise always protects your body keeping it away from the cardiac disorders.

6. Stress

No need to stress that one of the common factor for many disorders is stress. It always interferes with the protective mechanisms in the body bringing a disorder in the physiological functions.

So again patients should be suggested to practice stress relieve activities and regular management.

7. Elevated C-reactive protein

Even thought the direct relation between elevated C-reactive protein and risk of atherosclerosis is not completely established, the former may indicate a signal for the risk.

Actually C-reactive protein is elevated during inflammatory conditions. How it is related with atherosclerosis is not clear but it was found that patients with elevated levels of this protein are at more risk.

8. Chronic alcoholism

Alcohol intake always has its deleterious effects on cardiovascular disease as with the present context.

People with chronic alcoholism will have more chance of elevated levels of bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol.

9. Smoking

Just like alcoholism, smoking can also included in risk factors for atherosclerosis. Even this doesn’t stand as the main risk factor it can be added up with other factors increasing the probability of atheroma formation. So it is one of the parts in life style modification that patients are suggested to avoid smoking to decrease the risk.

10. Family history

This is one of the significant risk factors that is not modifiable.

Any family member from either maternal or paternal having previous history of cardiac disorders may increase the risk of atherosclerosis in the patient with high cholesterol levels.

Again risk intensity increases with family history from the members of both father and mother.

At the same time, family history doesn’t always guarantee the development of atherosclerosis in every people but if it is already developed the patient should take more care to prevent cardiovascular disorders in future.

11. Age

It was found that males are at more risk than females for development of atherosclerosis.

12. Sex

As previously discussed, very rarely people at young age suffer with atherosclerosis.

So, age of the patient also appears in the list of risk factors for atherosclerosis along with gender.

Males with age above 45 years and females with age above 55 years are at greater risk for atherosclerosis with raised cholesterol levels.

So, it’s a combination of one or more risk factors for atherosclerosis that enhance the possibility of cardiovascular disorders like heart attack, myocardial infarction, stroke in the patients. So a strict control of cholesterol levels along with life style modifications always brings positive results with minimizing the overall risk.



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