Atherosclerosis, which in Latin means “hardening of the arteries,” is a disease of the blood vessels. It is very common in Western society and begins probably in our 20s and 30s.
Many factors increase our risk of atherosclerosis. These include male sex, postmenopausal status, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, family history of athrosclerosis (heart attacks, stroke) and elevated levels of a blood chemical including homocystine and cholesterol.
The roll of the general internist in prevention of disease is to treat the risk factors of atherosclerosis to reduce the patient’s risk of developing stroke, heart disease and other conditions caused by atherosclerosis that by far account for the vast majority of deaths in the United States.
Available to the modern internist are numerous medications and treatments that can markedly affect future risks.
Authored by: Christopher P. Robben, M.D., F.A.C.P.
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