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Subject - medicine
Arteriosclerosis (synonym: atherosclerosis) is the medical term for the inflammatory disease commonly referred to as hardening of the arteries. This involves abnormal changes to the arterial walls, including thickening and hardening, which decreases the physiologically important elasticity of the walls and permanently narrows the vessels.
This condition begins to develop with swelling of the innermost layer of cells (intima) in the blood vessels in conjunction with the deposition of lipoproteins. This process is called lipoidosis and is reversible. Cholesterol that crystallizes out attracts scavenger cells that trigger an inflammatory process, which initiates the arteriosclerosis (Latz, E. (2010): NLRP3 inflammasomes are required for atherogenesis and activated by cholesterol crystals. In: Nature. 464 , 1357-1361). Progression leads to irreversible hardening (sclerosis) of the blood vessel walls through increased production of connective tissue. Factors that favour this process include high blood pressure, diabetes, nicotine, elevated blood lipid levels, and familial predisposition.
Narrowing of the arteries leads to circulatory problems and an increased risk of thrombosis. The long-term medical consequences of arteriosclerosis depend on which arteries are affected. Damage to the coronary vessels can lead to a heart attack; damage to the cerebral arteries increases the risk of stroke and symptoms of dementia.