Atherosclerosis of the aorta: what is, how to treat?
Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. His main danger is the narrowing of the arteries and related issues.
What is atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is a degenerative process in the arteries, which starts at a young age, developing slowly and gradually. It is very important to early detect atherosclerosis in the main large vessels such as aorta and carotid artery. In this disease plaques are formed, their development is due to several factors, including endothelial dysfunction, thickening of the inner walls of blood vessels, accumulation of lipids and inflammatory process.
What is atherosclerosis of the aorta?
The aorta is the largest artery in the body that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart to all parts of the body. Atherosclerosis can develop in the blood vessels of various organs. However, the greatest attention should be paid to major arteries – the aorta and its major branches. Aortic atherosclerosis can manifest in three primary ways:
- The sealing wall of the aorta.
- Aneurysm of the aorta.
- Atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta.
Depending on the level of the lesion is isolated:
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- Atherosclerosis of the aortic arch.
- Atherosclerosis of the thoracic aorta.
- Atherosclerosis of the abdominal aorta.
How does atherosclerosis of the aorta?
Most often, the presence of atherosclerotic plaques in the aorta itself does not manifest. Aorta – major artery too, so they can completely block its lumen. However, the atherosclerotic wall of the aorta becomes vulnerable to complications that include aneurysm and dissection.
Aortic aneurysm is a saccular protrusion of its walls, which appears as a result of their weakening and high pressure. An aneurysm can occur in any Department of an aorta in chest or in abdomen. Quite often, its presence does not manifest itself, but sometimes develop the following symptoms:
- Pain in the chest, abdomen and/or middle of the back between the shoulder blades.
- Aneurysm of the thoracic can cause shortness of breath, hoarseness, cough (due to pressure on the lungs and Airways), and difficulty swallowing (due to compression of the esophagus).
- Aneurysm rupture can lead to loss of consciousness, stroke, shock or heart attack.
Quite often, an aneurysm of the aorta revealed by accident, when conducting an ultrasound examination of abdomen, echocardiography, computed or magnetic resonance tomography coronary angiography. Small aneurysms that do not cause any symptoms, see as long as they are not enlarged and do not involve any risk of rupture.
For large and symptomatic aneurysms, the weakened part of the vessel is removed surgically and replaced with a graft of artificial material. If the extension is close to the aortic valve, replace it as well. The surgery is performed under General anesthesia.
There is also a more modern method of treatment – implantation of a stent graft. This is a special device, which in the folded condition using a minimally invasive way through the femoral artery starts to place the extension and there is expanding. This treatment is accompanied by fewer complications and a shorter hospital stay.
An aortic dissection
Atherosclerosis of the aorta vessel wall becomes weak, and in the inner lining of the vessel (the endothelium) may see a small gap that leads to delamination. Through the gap in the wall of the vessel under high pressure penetrates the blood, separating the endothelium from the muscle layer of the vascular wall and creating a false passage or lumen.
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This channel may be short, and may extend the entire length of the aorta. If in the inner shell, a second, distal rupture, the blood can return to the true lumen of the aorta. In some cases, the bundle covers all three layers of the vascular wall, causing aortic rupture and almost certain death.
Pain is the most common symptom of aortic dissection. It has a heavy, tearing character, often starts suddenly. If stratification occurs in the thoracic spine, pain located in the chest and radiates to the upper back. If stratification affects the abdominal Department, the pain can occur in the middle or lower back and give the flanks of the abdomen.
Pain syndrome may be accompanied by nausea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath and weakness, the patient sometimes loses consciousness. Other symptoms depend on the localization bundles and defeat some of the arteries extending from the aorta. For example, if the affected vessels supplying the brain, may be signs of a stroke. If the bundle has broken the blood flow in the anterior spinal artery that carries blood spinal cord, the patient may experience paralysis of the lower limbs. If the affected coronary artery may develop a myocardial infarction. Identify stratification with ultrasound, echocardiography, CT and magnetic resonance imaging, angiography.
Treatment of aortic dissection is aimed at adequate pain relief, the reduction and strict control of blood pressure. This is aimed at preventing further damage to the vessel. In most cases, to eliminate stratification surgical intervention is necessary, which is to replace the affected artificial prosthesis open or minimally invasive way (through the stent graft).
How to treat atherosclerosis of the aorta?
While atherosclerosis has not led to the development of aneurysms or aortic dissection, it can be successfully treated. This helps to prevent the development of complications and reduce the risk of the destruction not only of the aorta and other vessels (primarily cerebral and coronary arteries). Treatment of atherosclerosis of the aorta begins with modifications of lifestyle, which includes:
- A healthy diet consisting of low-fat or low-fat dairy products, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, pears); vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, carrots); legumes (beans, lentils, peas) and whole grains (oatmeal, brown rice, corn tortillas). You should avoid foods rich in saturated (animal products) and TRANS fats (hydrogenated oils and fats contained in margarine, cookies, cakes and pies), containing a large amount of salt.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, and this is very important for the overall health and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. To achieve the goal by using a healthy diet and exercise.
- Stress management – can improve emotional and physical health.
- Smoking cessation and alcohol abuse.
- Regular physical activity can reduce many of the risk factors of atherosclerosis of the aorta, including the level of bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.
Sometimes just a change of lifestyle and treatment of folk remedies can not cope with the development of atherosclerosis and prevent the development of complications. In this case, the doctor appoints drugs that reduce cholesterol (statins) and blood pressure lowering.