Is atherosclerosis hereditary

Calcification of the arteries: causes & risk factors

Cause: atherosclerotic plaques

Atherosclerosis occurs as a reaction to damage to the inner layer of the arterial wall adjacent to the blood. This damage can be triggered by mechanical injuries, bacterial toxins, viruses or immune reactions.

As a result of the damage to the cell layer of the inner vascular wall, muscle cells multiply from the middle layer of the vascular wall and migrate into the innermost layer of the wall. In addition, the storage of fat leads to the formation of foam cells in the innermost and middle layers. Over a longer period of time, focal tissue changes (plaques) develop, which are characteristic of the picture of arteriosclerosis and often also have clear calcium deposits.

Risk factors

To date, all the causes of arteriosclerosis are probably not exactly known, but there are four main factors that have a decisive influence on the risk of the disease.

  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • nicotine

Genetic factors are also of importance (whereby, for example, an increased cholesterol level and diabestes mellitus can be inherited), pronounced, long-term stress, an increased uric acid level and, in addition, rare changes in the blood count.

Admittedly old age is accompanied by hardening of the arteries, but without other factors the plaques described tend to develop rather rarely.

People in whose families there are frequent deaths as a result of heart attacks or strokes or diseases of the peripheral blood vessels should, on the one hand, ensure a healthy lifestyle or avoid risk factors and, on the other hand, have an initial medical examination carried out as a precaution at least from the age of 50.