Atherosclerosis is the most frequent variant of pathology; he is most serious, because it causes damage to the coronary arteries, cerebral vessels and cerebrovascular insufficiency. Arteriosclerosis is a general term for several diseases that cause thickening and loss of elasticity of the arterial wall. Forms of non-atheromatous arteriosclerosis include arteriosclerosis of Menkeberg and arteriolosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the formation of plaques (atter) in the intima of medium and large arteries. Plaques contain lipids, inflammatory cells, smooth muscle cells and connective tissue. Risk factors include dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, smoking, family predisposition, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and hypertension. Symptoms appear when the size or rupture of the plaque increases, which reduces or stops the blood flow; manifestations depend on the affected artery. The diagnosis is established clinically and is confirmed by angiography, ultrasound or other imaging studies. Treatment includes the elimination of risk factors, appropriate diet, physical activity and the appointment of antiplatelet agents.
Atherosclerosis can affect all large and medium-sized arteries, including coronary, carotid and cerebral arteries, the aorta, its branches and trunk arteries of the extremities. This disease is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the US and most Western countries. In recent years, mortality due to atherosclerosis has decreased, but in 2001, atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries and cerebral vessels caused more than 650,000 deaths in the US (more than cancer, and almost 6 times more than accidents). The prevalence of atherosclerosis is rapidly increasing in developing countries, and as people in developed countries live longer, the incidence will increase. It is expected that by 2020, atherosclerosis will become the leading cause of death in the world.
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