How does atherothrombosis develop?

Atherothrombosis versus atherosclerosis
The process of atherothrombosis is influenced by another process called atherosclerosis. As we age, atherosclerosis causes the inside walls of the arteries to harden and thicken, which can disrupt the flow of blood. This is often referred to as "hardening of the arteries."

It is thought that atherosclerosis is caused by damage to the inner wall of the arteries. Once the damage occurs, a build-up of cells, fat, cholesterol, and calcium may develop. This build-up is also called a plaque. If the plaque increases in size, the interior of the artery becomes narrow, disrupting the flow of blood. If the plaques rupture, a blood clot can form in the artery. If a blood clot forms on this area of the plaque, the process of atherothrombosis begins.

Without long-term protection, atherothrombosis can lead to any of the following serious and potentially fatal conditions:

  • peripheral arterial disease (PAD)
  • stroke
  • transient ischemic attack (TIA) - also called "mini-stroke"
  • heart attack - also called "myocardial infarction"

Know your risks
Knowing whether or not you are at risk gives you a fighting chance against this disease. Getting diagnosed and treating the conditions with medication, surgery, or making lifestyle changes, can greatly reduce your chances of developing atherothrombosis. Some of the most common factors that increase your risk of atherothrombotic disease (health problems caused by atherothrombosis) include:

  • aging (the risk is higher as you age)
  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • family history
  • being overweight
  • little or no exercise
  • smoking cigarettes
  • too much stress
  • unhealthy eating habits
  • previous heart attack
  • previous stroke or mini-stroke
  • peripheral arterial disease

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