Atherosclerosis: risk factors and diagnostic methods

Sad statistics show that the main risk factors for atherosclerosis are not the quality of medical care for the population, but the wrong way of life. Of course, this disease can be provoked by genetics. However, as shown by medical practice, in general, at risk of atherosclerosis are those who smoke, eat junk food and have excessive body weight.

What are the unchangeable risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis?

All risk factors for atherosclerosis are divided into two main groups - immutable and variable.

What are the unchangeable risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis, which can not be medically treated?

These are:
  • age;
  • floor;
  • heredity.

Age. The older the person, the higher the risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis. Quite often, this ailment is considered as one of the manifestations of the aging process of the body, since atherosclerotic plaques appear in all people of advanced age. The risk of developing atherosclerosis increases after 50 years.

Gender. As already noted, in men the risk factor of atherosclerosis is increased in comparison with women. In addition, the disease begins to develop in representatives of the strong half of humanity for 10 years earlier than women.

The heredity of is the most common cause of early( before age 45) onset of atherosclerosis. However, in people over 50 years of age, a genetic predisposition to the occurrence of an illness does not play a special role.

Variable risk factors for atherosclerosis: smoking, diabetes, and others.

Changed are those causes that can be eliminated by changing a person's lifestyle or during treatment.

These include:

  • arterial hypertension;
  • smoking;
  • obesity;
  • diabetes mellitus;
  • violation of the metabolism of fats;
  • improper power supply;
  • is a sedentary lifestyle;
  • infectious diseases.

Arterial hypertension is the so-called independent factor in the development of atherosclerosis. Against the background of increased pressure, arterial walls are saturated with fats, and this, as already noted, is the initial stage in the onset of atherosclerotic plaques.

Smoking is a risk factor for atherosclerosis, which doctors call one of the most insidious. First, it increases the risk of many cardiovascular diseases. Secondly, people who smoke people develop much faster than non-smokers.

Smoking people are 3 times more likely than non-smokers to suffer from atherosclerosis, arterial hypertension, coronary heart disease and hyperlipidemia.

Obesity is one of the most common factors in the development of atherosclerosis. As a rule, in people with excess weight the first symptoms of the disease appear even before the age of 45.

Diabetes mellitus increases the risk of atherosclerosis 4-7 times. With this disease there is a violation of the exchange of fats, which causes the appearance of atherosclerotic plaques.

Disturbance of fat metabolism, or dyslipidemia , is a major factor in the development of atherosclerosis. It is worth noting that most of the causes arise precisely because of dyslipidemia, that is, as a result of a violation of the metabolism of fats. The development of the disease affects the high content of cholesterol in the blood, as well as atherogenic lipoproteins and triglycerides. And one of the main causes of dyslipidemia, and hence, of atherosclerosis is an increase in the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol plays a significant role in the human body.

This complex organic compound, a representative of the fat class, performs a number of important functions:

  • structural - is one of the main components that make up the structure of cell membranes. Due to cholesterol, cell membranes acquire elasticity and stability;
  • digestive - due to cholesterol in the liver is the synthesis of bile acids;
  • hormonal - on the basis of cholesterol, the hormones of the adrenal cortex and sex hormones are synthesized.

It is important that the amount of cholesterol in the human blood is always at the optimum level. An increase in the content of this compound is fraught with the development of a number of diseases, including atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol enters the human body in two ways: with products of animal origin and as a result of internal synthesis. In the first case, the compound enters the intestine, where its absorption takes place, and then along with the chylomicrons it spreads to those organs that need cholesterol for normal growth and synthesis of various chemical elements.

The greatest amount of cholesterol absorbs the liver, which is required for the synthesis of bile acids. Internal synthesis of cholesterol occurs when the body experiences a deficiency of cholesterol, and can not get it with food. Then the substance is formed from the products of the decomposition of fats. By the way, the use of fatty foods enhances its production. In a completely healthy person, the processes of accumulation and excretion of cholesterol are normal. As already noted, people with high levels of this compound often develop dyslipidemia, and hence, atherosclerosis.

Improper power supply. This factor leads to an increase in cholesterol, a violation of the metabolism of fat, resulting in the development of atherosclerosis.

The sedentary lifestyle of , or hypodynamia, leads to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and, hence, to atherosclerosis. In general, the reduction in motor activity is one of the main factors in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

Infections .More recently, a medical theory has emerged about the infectious nature of atherosclerosis. According to the research, the factors of occurrence and rapid development of this disease can be chlamydia and cytomegalovirus infections.

Test for members at risk for the developmental factors of atherosclerosis

To assess the risk of developing atherosclerosis, it is recommended to pass a simple test. Each answer "yes" is counted as one point.


1. You are a man over 45 years of age.

2. You are a woman older than 50 years.

3. One of your close relatives( father, mother, grandmother, grandfather) suffers from atherosclerosis.

4. You are overweight.

5. You lead a sedentary lifestyle.

6. You have been experiencing stress for several months or longer.

7. You drink alcohol twice a week and more often.

8. You smoke.

9. You eat food that contains a lot of cholesterol every day.

10. You eat a fat meal several times a week.

11. Your blood pressure increases periodically.

12. You suffer from hypertension.

13. You suffer from insomnia.

14. You often suffer from infectious diseases.

15. You have diabetes.

16. When walking, running for a short distance, your legs get tired.

17. You suffer from pain in the legs, especially after physical exertion.

18. Some weather conditions cause you to increase blood pressure.

19. You often eat at public catering establishments than at home. It happens that you snack "on the go."

20. Your mode of work and rest is far from perfect( often work without days off and holidays, do not sleep much, think about work all the time, etc.).


To assess the results of the test for the detection of risk factors for atherosclerosis, summarize all the answers with "yes".

0 баллов - there is no risk of developing atherosclerosis in the next few years.

1-2 points is the average risk of developing atherosclerosis. In the next 10 years, it is 10-15%.

3-5 points - a high risk of atherosclerosis, as well as heart disease( in the next 10 years is 15-30%).

More than 5 points of - the risk of developing atherosclerosis is extremely high.

Perhaps the disease is already progressing. It is necessary to urgently consult a doctor and undergo a medical examination.

Methods for diagnosis of atherosclerosis of vessels

Diagnosis of arteriosclerosis of vessels is always difficult, as the symptoms of this disease are similar to those of a number of other diseases, as well as with the manifestations of aging of the organism. In addition, atherosclerosis in most cases develops against a background of various ailments, accompanies them or is the result of their flow.

It is not difficult to diagnose in old age, as this pathology is observed in almost all elderly people. However, it is necessary to establish an accurate characterization of the ailment of a specific patient: to determine the complexity of the pathology, the exact location of atherosclerotic plaques, possible complications, the presence of other diseases.

For the diagnosis of atherosclerosis, the patient will need to undergo a full medical examination.

In each specific case, the attending physician independently decides which examination should be passed to the patient to clarify the diagnosis.

General diagnostics:

  • general examination of the patient;
  • identification of risk factors and ways of their elimination;
  • instrumental and laboratory studies to diagnose the disease, locate atherosclerotic plaques, assess the condition of internal organs. Additional diagnostics:
  • determination of lipid metabolism disorders, including the establishment of an accurate level of cholesterol in the blood;
  • X-ray examination for suspected atherosclerosis of the aorta;
  • Ultrasound of vessels to detect the localization of atherosclerotic plaques, as well as the presence( absence) of blood clots.

One of the methods for diagnosing atherosclerosis is a biochemical blood test. Indicators indicative of atherosclerosis are increased cholinesterases( HE), triglycerides( TG) and cholesterol. The normal value of CHE is 5300-12900 U / L, the total cholesterol is 3-6 mmol / L.

The normal indices of LDL cholesterol and HDL and TG are indicated in the tables.

Normal LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol( mmol / l):


Cholesterol level LDL

HDL cholesterol level







Normal indices of TG( mmol / l) depending on age:

Age( years)



























60-65 65 and older



Another method, how to diagnose atherosclerosis, is ultrasound of vessels, or Doppler ultrasound, which is assigned to determine the state of blood flow in veins and arteries.

Prevention of atherosclerosis is aimed, first of all, at eliminating mutable factors, if any. It is necessary to abandon bad habits and eating fatty foods. In addition, it is necessary to increase motor activity and, if possible, avoid stressful situations.

It is advisable to undergo periodic examination, controlling the level of lipids and cholesterol in the blood.