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Diagnosis of Atherosclerosis:
Your doctor may suspect that you have atherosclerosis based on your symptoms and risk factors. Some of the following tests may be done to make the diagnosis:
• Stress testing
• CT angiogram and coronary calcium scoring
• Carotid intimal medial thickness measurement by ultrasound
Management of Atherosclerosis:
Once atheromatous plaques have formed, they are generally there to stay. Medication and lifestyle changes will generally help prevent the plaques from getting larger. Occasionally, the plaques may regress slightly. The goal of atherosclerosis treatment is to restore as much blood flow as possible to the affected areas.
• Regular exercise (aerobic exercise)
• Eat foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, high in fibre and wholegrains
• Increase consumption of fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
• Quit smoking
• Restrict salt intake if you have hypertension
• Reduce weight if overweight
• Taking regular medication to control blood pressure if required.
• Medication to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels if required. Statins are the most widely prescribed drugs used to achieve this, consistently showing reduced atherosclerotic disease complications and reduced mortality due to atherosclerosis-related diseases.
• Taking medication to normalize glucose levels in those who are diabetic.
• Aspirin has an anti-platelet effect, and is used long-term to help prevent heart attacks, strokes and blood clot formation in people at increased risk for developing blood clots.
1. Balloon Angioplasty:
In angiography, a thin catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel in the groin region, and passed up into the blocked artery. A radio-opaque contrast is injected, and X-ray based techniques are used to see if there is any blockage in the lumen of the vessel.
In balloon angioplasty, which typically follows angiography, a balloon-tipped catheter is used to open up blocked or narrowed arteries. A balloon is inflated, and this physically opens up the lumen of the blocked artery, thereby improving blood flow.
Balloon angioplasty often causes some damage to the walls of the artery. This damage stimulates proliferation of the vessel endothelium and re-stenosis of the affected artery with fibrous tissue.
As such, stents are often inserted in the artery to keep the lumen open after successful balloon dilatation. Some stents are impregnated with medication to prevent proliferation of the injured endothelium.
3. Vascular Bypass Surgery:
Bypass surgery uses healthy arteries or veins from another part of the body, to "bypass" the blocked artery. This effectively improves blood flow downstream, to the areas supplied by the blocked artery. Vascular bypass surgery is performed by Vascular Surgeons, Neurosurgeons and Cardiothoracic Surgeons, depending on the anatomical location of the blocked artery.
The article above is meant to provide general information and does not replace a doctor's consultation.
Please see your doctor for professional advice.