Subscribe for daily wellness inspiration

Like onlymyhealth on Facebook!

Plaque and Risk of Heart Disease

By  , Expert Content
Jan 17, 2013
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)

Coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease (CAD) is leading cause of death and morbidity in men and women worldwide. CAD is caused due to formation of plaque in the arteries that supply the heart with blood. Plaque is made of fatty material, calcium, and scar tissue. The arteries supply the heart muscle (myocardium) with oxygen and other nutrients it needs to pump blood and remain healthy.

 
What is plaque?



The coronary arteries or the arteries of your heart are very small in size about the size of a strand of noodle. The inside walls of the arteries are smooth at birth which allows the blood to flow without any resistance or problem. But as we grow older plaque gradually builds on the inside surface of the arteries. This restricts the blood flow and blood supply to the heart muscle.

Plaque is made up of:

  •     Cholesterol, (the fatty deposits)
  •     Calcium deposition and
  •     Fibrous tissue (scar tissue that is formed due to inflammation and damage in the artery)


Plaque buildup starts in your arteries when you were young. But it usually does not cause any problems or effects until later in life. The symptoms start after about 75 percent of your artery gets blocked.

 
What does the plaque do?

  •     Plaque leads to narrowing of the artery so that the heart muscle does not get enough blood (and thereby oxygen and other nutrients it needs to pump blood and remain healthy).
  •     Inadequate blood supply causes chest pain, or angina. The symptoms due to narrowing of the artery are increased when your heart activity with any exercise, exertion or mental or emotional stress increases. This is because the narrowed artery cannot meet the increased demand for oxygen and blood supply to the heart muscle.
  •     If the artery is completely blocked by plaque it may cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or sudden cardiac arrest due to disturbance of heart rhythm.


 
Factors that increase risk of plaque formation

  •     Unhealthy eating habits, such as a diet poor in fruits, vegetable, and high processed foods, cholesterol and other fats,
  •     Smoking and excessive alcohol drinking
  •     Lack of exercise or physical activity



All these factors accelerate the deposit of plaque within the inner lining of your coronary arteries.

 
Preventing Cholesterol Plaques


Atherosclerosis and cholesterol plaques are preventable if you take precaution. Measures which can slow or prevent buildup of plaque include

  •     Avoid smoking
  •     Avoid foods rich in fats and cholesterol
  •     Avoid abdominal obesity ("spare tire")
  •     Avoid stress
  •     Healthy eating habits such as eating diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain food products
  •     Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol (that more than one drink per day for women, or more than one or two drinks per day for men
  •     Do regular exercise or physical activity
  •     Appropriate control of high blood pressure
  •     Appropriate treatment of diabetes


 
Drugs and Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Risk Plaques



Once the plaque is formed it generally does not go away but further buildup of plaque can be slowed down or even stopped. For this you will need lifestyle changes and, probably medication.

 

Lifestyle changes to prevent plaque formation include:

  •     Healthy eating habits such as eating diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grain food products
  •     Avoid foods rich in fats and cholesterol
  •     Avoid smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol (that more than one drink per day for women, or more than one or two drinks per day for men
  •     Do regular exercise or physical activity

 

Drugs that can lower cholesterol levels and there by plaque formation include:

  •     Statins: These are most often used to lower cholesterol
  •     Fibrates
  •     Niacin
  •     Bile acid sequestrants


Procedures to Unclog Arteries: If the blockage in your arteries is extensive your doctor may advice procedure to unclog arteries like angiography, angioplasty, and stenting:

Reducing risk factors that promote plaque formation will lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Related Articles
  • Brush Teeth, Cut Cancer RiskBrush Teeth, Cut Cancer Risk

    A new study by Swedish researchers have revealed that not brushing your teeth not only gives you a bad breathe and ugly set of teeth, but also can increase your chances of cancer.

    read more
4.8 / 5(4 Ratings)
Write a Review
Post a Comment
Disclaimer +
Though all possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; Onlymyhealth assumes no liability for the same. Using any information of this website is at the viewers’ risk. Please be informed that we are not responsible for advice/tips given by any third party in form of comments on article pages . If you have or suspect having any medical condition, kindly contact your professional health care provider.