Heart disease is the number one disease in the nation. It kills more people annually than any other condition and is one of the most prevalent conditions suffered by Americans. Despite it's saturation in American society however this was not always the case. Heart disease has quickly climbed the ranks of common diseases and has done so in tandem with the arrival of fast food and desk jobs. It is these underlying facts that have much to do with the widespread prevalence of heart disease and it's relative, obesity.

Arterial Plaque & Heart Disease

No matter the widespread knowledge that heart disease is so common in our modern society it is sometimes lost that heart disease is caused by something and doesn't simple occur on its own very often. The cause of heart disease is actually arterial disease which is characterized by arterial plaque build up. This basically means that as plaques build up in the arteries the arteries slowly harden and contribute to various risk factors of heart disease such as hypertension, and clogged arteries.

It is because arterial disease and arterial plaque exist that many of these other conditions can proliferate unchecked. Arterial plaques slowly form over extended periods of time due to the cholesterol makeup of one's blood stream. When a person consistently has and high levels of LDL cholesterol and low levels of HDL cholesterol plaques can begin to form, only healthy cholesterol levels which are in balance can help reverse arterial disease.

Plaque In Arteries

What happens is that the LDL cholesterol clings to the sides of the arterial walls. This is the basis for arterial plaque. What should happen is that the HDL cholesterol should flush excess LDL cholesterol from the blood stream causing less cholesterol plaque buildup in arteries. However when HDL cholesterol levels are too low this doesn't happen at a safe rate. The cholesterol buildups occur and occasionally break off the walls of the arteries. When this happens the inner walls sometimes tear slightly allowing a spot for more cholesterol to accumulate.

Eventually these pockets and tears fill with cholesterol and then heal over with scar tissue. This causes the plaques to reside within the arterial walls. As this process continues over and over again the arterial plaque can eventually cause the artery to become clogged. Signs of clogged arteries can be as minimal as fatigue or poor circulation and can be as advanced as chest pan and shortness of breath. It's no secret that avoiding arterial plaque is good for your health and it's no secret that too much arterial plaque can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Arterial plaque is basically the accumulation of cholesterol in your arteries coupled with scaring of the interior walls of the arteries resulting in clogged arteries. Better cholesterol management through diet and exercise however is more than capable of reversing arterial plaque build up and heart disease and it should be the goal for us all.