Anti aging guide

Atherosclerosis and Age-related Disease



Is atherosclerosis an inevitable concomitant of aging and what are the effects of atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is certainly related to aging, but ‘other factors influence its rate of progress. In certain societies, notably Japan, advanced coronary artery disease is uncommon in post-mortem studies of people well into their 60s. There are a number of well-known risk factors for developing arterial disease, some of which are capable of modification while others are not. Attention to those factors which we can influence has led to a fairly spectacular decline in mortality from the ravages of atherosclerosis in a number of countries, with the USA leading the way.

The main targets for this process are the brain, the heart, and the legs. Disease of the carotid and cerebral arteries produces strokes. Sometimes minor, transient episodes known as transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) give a warning that a major stroke is threatened, and it may be possible for the physician to take action to try to avert such a disaster. If the coronary arteries are affected, the outcome may be a heart attack (coronary thrombosis, myocardial infarct) or it may be heart failure. If the vessels are narrowed but not occluded, the characteristic chest pain on exertion known as angina alerts us to the disease process, and there are various medical and surgical interventions which can influence the course of events. Similarly, arterial disease of the legs can cause pain in the calf on exercise when the oxygen requirements of the muscles are at their greatest (claudication) and it occasionally progresses, if unchecked, to gangrene.

Rather less commonly, the arteries supplying the kidneys and the intestine are affected, to the extent that clinical manifestations occur, for example pain arising from the gut or diarrhoea. Yet another effect of the disease is the progressive expansion of the aorta in the abdomen to form a sac or aneurysm, with the danger of a sudden catastrophic rupture.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - May 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm