Clogged arteries do far-ranging harm

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by darude, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. darude

    darude New Member

    Clogged arteries do far-ranging harm
    By Bryant Stamford

    When you consume the typical American diet high in saturated fat, cholesterol, salt and simple sugar, bad things happen, particularly in the arteries.

    Plaque forms on the arterial walls, gradually and progressively clogging the arteries with sludge in the same way your kitchen drain pipes get clogged and sluggish from debris. The process of clogging is called atherosclerosis.



    Arteries are precious highways that transport life-sustaining blood to all parts of the body. Some parts, like the organs, must have a constant and copious supply of blood, because they require lots of oxygen, which the blood provides. Interruption of the supply of oxygen can cause considerable damage -- even death -- in a short time.

    Impaired arterial blood flow is most often associated with the heart.

    When blood supply to the heart muscle is less than the demand, chest pain results; this is called angina pectoris.

    If blood supply is completely cut off to a section of the heart for more than two hours, the heart tissue begins to die. This is called a myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

    Although the heart is the focus of attention when it comes to blood flow, the impact can be seen all over the body.

    Head to toe
    Recent research suggests that in older folks, ages 70 to 79, the progression of atherosclerosis in arteries that feed the brain may be a cause of depression.

    This is an interesting finding, because depression is common in the elderly and has far-reaching negative effects.

    For example, older folks who are depressed may be at greater risk of becoming senile or developing Alzheimer's disease. Since we don't know what causes Alzheimer's, perhaps the linkage between atherosclerosis and depression may prove fruitful in leading to a discernible cause.

    There are, of course, many other causes of depression, but if atherosclerosis is a key factor, we at least know how to prevent it, which is more than we can say about most other causes of depression.

    Atherosclerosis can occur in any artery in the body, including those in the legs. When the clogging process becomes advanced over years, blood flow to leg muscles is compromised, causing severe pain while walking.

    As with angina pectoris, pain in the legs occurs because the demand for oxygen by the contracting muscles is greater than the amount that can be supplied.

    As the demand/supply ratio worsens, pain increases, forcing you to stop exercising. Rest reduces the metabolic activity in muscles, reducing the demand for blood flow and oxygen, allowing the supply to catch up, stopping the pain.

    This condition in the legs is called claudication. A key feature is that each time you experience pain during walking, it takes about the same amount of time for the pain to subside when you stop to rest.

    Many people will experience claudication, but because they have no other symptoms, they will ignore the implications and simply adjust to the situation and rest when necessary.

    The implications are, of course, that atherosclerosis has reached an advanced stage in the legs, which means the clogging process is likely to be pretty far along in other arteries as well, perhaps in those that feed the heart.

    This means that if you have symptoms as described, with severe leg pain upon exertion, seek the advice of a cardiologist immediately. It may save your life.

    In between
    Atherosclerosis also can impact the area that lies about midway between the head and the toes.

    When atherosclerosis progresses in the arteries that transport blood into the penis, erections are compromised. This is referred to as erectile dysfunction, or impotence.

    Erectile dysfunction can have other causes, including psychological and neurological conditions, medications, diabetes, hormonal deficiencies, and others.

    But, up to 60 percent of impotence in men over age 60 is caused by atherosclerosis.

    This explains the billions spent on Viagra, Cialis and Levitra -- FDA-approved drugs for erectile dysfunction that stimulate blood flow into the arteries that feed the penis.

    The bottom line
    The legacy of a lousy lifestyle is atherosclerosis that progresses slowly but surely and without symptoms until it's advanced.

    Atherosclerosis can be present in any artery in the body. Therefore, unless you clean up your lifestyle, you run the risk of all sorts of nasty outcomes, including heart attack, depression, leg pain upon exertion and erectile dysfunction.

    Such daunting outcomes should help persuade even the most stubborn among us to overhaul their diet and get some daily exercise.

  2. russiankids3

    russiankids3 New Member

    My mother has suffered greatly from atherosclerosis for many years. Started in her 50's with trouble walking even short distances. We, the family, begged her to see a doctor for this, but she was in denial of any major illness which was not unusual for her generation.

    Finally, I called a cardiologist and made her an appointment on my own, with my Dad's approval. We told her that same day where she was going and that she couldn't argue because appt. already made.

    Cardiologist sent her immediately to hospital. She had a quadruple bypass and once recovered from that had surgery that took part of intact arteries from her forearms and used these in both her lower legs. Doc said without this operation she would lose her toes, foot, etc. This finally scared her. Doc also told her that her arteries were like an eighty year olds! She was in late 50's then.

    Interestingly her doc asked her if she had ever smoked and when she said no he didn't believe her!! Came to find out from doc that because she had lived amongst smokers her whole life the 2nd hand smoke really did a job on her arteries and heart. She also had high cholesterol which ran in her family.

    She had 2 more operations to try and save her lower extremities with the artery transfer method. Not so successful-amputated toes on left foot, then took the foot, now she has an above the leg amputuation. Also, toes amputated on right foot. She has been in a wheelchair for years now.

    Had congestive heart failure and complete kidney failure about 5 years ago. Needed an aortic valve replacement immediately even though they didn't know if she would make it through alive right after the CHF and on dialysis.

    She is a very ill 64 y.o. today who can do no physical activities at all. Also she gets sicker and sicker on hemodialysis.

    I have been checked for heart and clogged arteries for which I am at risk for myself. Have doppler's every year .

    Your posting is so important to all. This disease can ruin your life . Everyone, please take care of yourselves.

    Sue