Essay on Atherosclerosis: The Silent Killer

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Atherosclerosis: The Silent Killer

     Atherosclerosis is one of a group of health problems that define coronary artery disease, oftentimes referred to as heart disease. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of heart disease in the United States. The following is the definition provided by the American Heart Association:
Atherosclerosis (ath"er-o-skleh-RO'sis) comes from the Greek words athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (hardness). It's the name of the process in which deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and other substances build up in the inner lining of an artery. This buildup is called plaque. It usually affects large and medium-sized arteries. Some
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Eventually this obstruction leads to the lack of blood and oxygen to the heart, which ultimately results in a heart attack (NHLBI.com, 2005).
     There are eight major contributors that result in heart disease: heredity, smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol (LDL), physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, and arterial inflammation. The remaining seven contributors can be controlled, or at least reduced to safer levels that will help prevent or even reverse the disease, prevent a heart attack, and prolong one’s life.
Smoking
Extensive clinical studies have proven that smoking is a major factor in the development and progression of arterial sclerosis. Additionally, the risk of heart disease is more than twice that of non-smokers. According to the University of California at Berkeley, “Anywhere from 20 to 40% (100,000 to 200,000 every year) of all heart disease deaths in the U.S. are directly attributable to smoking.
The American Heart Association reports an even gloomier number, “Cigarette smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It accounts for more than 440,000 of the more than 2.4 million annual deaths. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing a number of chronic disorders. (AHA, 2005).
Smoking more than doubles one’s chances of eventually having a heart attack and increases the chance of

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