WHAT IS ARTERIOSCLEROSIS? Arteriosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, a disease fairly common among older people. The walls of the blood vessels are clogged by depositions of minerals and fatty material and degenerate, losing their original resilience, and become thicker, tough, and more rigid. Arteriosclerosis represents from 25 to almost 50 per cent of all chronic circulatory disease, and is responsible for many deaths among persons living past middle age. A healthy blood vessel can be compared to a hose made of elastic material. When the volume of liquid flowing through the hose is increased, the hose stretches to accommodate it, and when the volume of liquid decreases the hose shrinks. This is exactly what a healthy blood vessel does, stretching and shrinking to accommodate the increasing or decreasing volume of blood flowing through it. But when the walls of a blood vessel become rigid and inflexible, as in arteriosclerosis, this accommodation does not take place and when increased quantities of blood flow through a hardened or sclerotic artery, the pressure within the blood vessel rises temporarily, sometimes to the bursting point. Actual1y the symptoms of hardened arteries develop largely from the effects of this condition on the blood pressure and the circulation of local areas of the body. Generalized high blood pressure throughout the body is not caused by hardening of the arteries, although the two conditions tend to be closely related. The commonest symptoms of hardened arteries are drowsiness, periods of giddiness, headaches, and other manifestations of high blood pressure. Interference with circulation may cause cramps in the legs, which give them a bluish tinge. The most serious form of arteriosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels of the brain and heart are involved. The specific causes of the hardening process within the arteries is not as yet fully understood and is the subject of much medical research. One theory, partly borne out by experimental work with animals, places responsibility on excessive consumption of fats. Another suggests that overindulgence of tobacco and alcohol somehow stimulate the condition, although this has never been proved scientifically. Still another attributes the onset of arteriosclerosis to excessive consumption or refined carbohydrates and sugars. Treatment for arteriosclerosis is generally limited to establishing the patient's comfort and peace of mind as much as possible, and encouraging him to take good care of himself. The patient is urged to relax and eliminate as much as possible the stresses and strains of daily living, since excitement or intense emotion may stimulate a greater flow of blood than the hardened arteries can accommodate, with the possibility of severe consequences from rupture and bleeding. A low-fat diet is often recommended, and heat treatment, either baths or exposure to hot air, has been found useful. Several new drugs are available which often prove beneficial when prescribed.
Pages to are hidden for
"WHAT IS ARTERIOSCLEROSIS"Please download to view full document