Dangerous complications of atherosclerosis

My mother discovered atherosclerosis, which leads to 40% stenosis of the coronary arteries. Dangerous disease? Taking medicine can cure the disease?

My mother is 64 years old, has a history of high blood pressure for 8 years, taking prescription medication. (Thanh Ha, 35 years old).


Hypertension is also a consequence of the process of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes artery walls to thicken and become less elastic, called arteriosclerosis. When high blood pressure, making cholesterol – LDL encroach on artery walls, atherosclerosis and hardening of the arteries will develop faster, causing more hypertension. Experts call it the “pathological spiral”.

Every organ in the body is nourished by arteries. Therefore, atherosclerosis, causing narrowing of the arteries, will affect all organs and internal organs in the body: brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, extremities. There are three important circles in the body: cerebral vessels, cardiac vessels, and peripheral blood vessels. When stenosis is found in the heart, it is necessary to look for stenosis in the cerebral arteries, blood vessels of the limbs. Depending on the severity, which artery is blocked can cause complications such as:

Coronary artery disease: If plaque narrows the arteries near your heart, you’re at increased risk for coronary artery disease, which can manifest as angina, heart attack, or even heart failure.

Carotid artery disease: This condition occurs when the arteries near the brain are narrowed due to atherosclerosis. Carotid artery disease is the cause of a stroke or TIA – transient ischemic attack.

Peripheral artery disease: Blood vessels in the arms or legs are affected by atherosclerosis leading to circulation problems, called peripheral artery disease. The consequences of this condition are that the patient experiences intermittent pain when exercising, increasing the risk of burns or frostbite, and in severe cases, limb necrosis.

Chronic kidney disease: If atherosclerosis slows down blood flow to the kidneys, kidney function will be affected, causing wastes not to be eliminated from the body, leading to chronic kidney disease for a long time. .

Aneurysm: This is a serious complication of atherosclerosis, which can occur anywhere in the body. An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery. The disease is dangerous in that it rarely shows symptoms. When an aneurysm ruptures suddenly, it causes internal bleeding, which is life-threatening.

Blindness: Blockage of the central retinal artery due to atherosclerosis is the cause of eye stroke, causing sudden blindness in one or both eyes.

Young people check their heart health at Tam Anh General Hospital. Photo: Provided by the hospital

A completely blocked artery will cause organ and visceral necrosis (also known as infarction). For example, a blockage in a cerebral artery is called a cerebral infarction, a blockage in the heart is called a myocardial infarction, a blockage in a renal artery causes a kidney infarction… The final consequences will lead to organ failure such as: brain failure, heart failure, kidney failure… This is the natural progression of the arteries, everyone has to go through. This is because bad fats (LDL cholesterol) and other substances (collectively called plaque) build up in the artery walls.

Your mother has both high blood pressure and 40% coronary artery disease, which is a very common case when examining the doctor. In order to prevent coronary artery disease from further narrowing, your mother needs to follow 3 things: take medicine properly, adjust your diet and exercise seriously.

The main component of atheroma is LDL cholesterol (LDL-C). It is this substance that causes blood vessel blockage. Therefore, to effectively treat atherosclerosis, your mother needs to lower the LDL-C index as low as possible. Research has shown that lowering the LDL-C index to less than 1.8 mmol/L reduces the volume of plaque by 2-5%. Doctors often prescribe a drug to reduce bad fat, improve artery health. How much the target LDL-C should be, depends on each patient: age, sex, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, history of myocardial infarction, any narrowing of blood vessels >50%, family history… Long-term medication will help slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Patients will live well. On the contrary, without checking, without taking medicine, complications of atherosclerosis such as: myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, renal infarction, heart failure, kidney failure… will come sooner, more than others. with a group of serious people. Prevention is always better than cure.

Along with medication, adherence to a healthy lifestyle also greatly contributes to the effectiveness of the treatment of atherosclerosis. Patients should: stay away from secondhand smoke; increase foods rich in good fats (whole grains, legumes, nuts, fatty fish, olive oil…), limit foods high in bad fats (red meat, junk food, etc.), canned food, processed food, fast food…); exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes/day; maintain a reasonable weight, avoid overweight – obesity; control and maintain a stable blood pressure level; Control and maintain healthy blood sugar

We often advise patients on the value of each group: lipid-lowering drugs, blood pressure-lowering drugs, diabetes drugs… help 33%, a reasonable diet helps 33% and the right exercise regimen helps 33%. Thus, for the treatment to be effective, it is necessary to cooperate with the doctor, the patient and the family. This needs serious long-term.

Atherosclerosis (atherosclerosis) is a degenerative process of the arteries, forming atherosclerotic plaques in the artery walls, causing gradual narrowing of the ductus arteriosus. The process progresses slowly, at first narrowing 1%, 2%, 10%. The older you get, the more narrow your arteries become by 50-70%… until 100% completely blocked.

BS.CCII Huynh Ngoc Long
Director of Cardiovascular Intervention Center, Tam Anh General Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City


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