How to Prevent Arteriosclerosis

Instructor: Justine Fritzel

Justine has been a Registered Nurse for 10 years and has a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing degree.

Arteriosclerosis, the term for the hardening of the arteries, can lead to high blood pressure and even complications such as heart attacks and strokes. In this lesson, we will learn how to prevent arteriosclerosis.

Your Body Factory

Your body is a fine-oiled machine. Your body 'factory' never stops working, even though you probably rarely think about all that is going on at once. If you think about how a factory works, there are many different roles within the factory. If one isn't working right, it will affect another part of the factory.

One part of your body factory is your cardiovascular system. Your cardiovascular system consists of your heart and all of your blood vessels throughout your body. Your heart pumps non-stop to push the blood through your blood vessels in order to reach all of the cells of your body. The blood feeds your cells with nutrients and oxygen. The blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood are called arteries and the blood vessels that carry the deoxygenated blood back to the heart are called veins.

You can see how important your cardiovascular system is. Every cell of your body depends on it, so if something is wrong within this system, it's going to cause problems with the rest of the factory.

What is Arteriosclerosis?

Arteriosclerosis is a disease that affects the arteries in your body. There are different types of arteriosclerosis, but the common problem is that the walls of the arteries become thickened and stiff. This narrows the lumen of your arteries which restricts how much blood flow can pass through at once.

Arteriosclerosis
arteriosclerosis

You could compare it to your kitchen pipes. Has your sink ever had a really slow drain that causes the water to collect in the sink? This was likely due to the pipes having buildup within them. Gunk and mold buildup in the pipes make them more narrow, which slows down your drain. The same concept happens with arteriosclerosis.

Initially with arteriosclerosis, just like with your kitchen sink, you may not be aware that your pipes are collecting buildup. But once the buildup reaches a certain point, the draining water slows down. In your arteries, the blood flow is also limited. This can result in inadequate blood flow to the tissues of your body.

If you have arteriosclerosis in the arteries that provide blood to your heart, you may experience chest pain when you exert yourself because the arteries can't get enough blood to your heart. If the arteriosclerosis affects your arms or legs, you may have pain with movement for the same reason. And if the arteriosclerosis affects the arteries to your kidneys, it can lead to kidney failure.

All of those examples are pretty significant. If we can prevent arteriosclerosis, it is easier than trying to treat these complications!

How to Prevent Arteriosclerosis

Your arteries become hardened as you age, and there are different risk factors that may increase your likelihood of having arteriosclerosis. Leading a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent arteriosclerosis.

Exercise is important to maintain your heart health. Through exercise, you improve the circulation in your body; and exercise even helps to lower your blood pressure and stress levels! Aim for some type of exercise every day.

Make sure you are at an appropriate weight. Excess weight and obesity increase your likelihood of getting arteriosclerosis as well as other diseases. One way to help maintain a healthy weight is through eating a healthy diet. Avoid simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white bread. Eat whole grains and fruits and vegetables, as well as lean meats.

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