Arterial inflammation is inflammation of the arteries. It is believed to be a significant cause of atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty material in the blood vessels, as well as a major contributor to heart disease and other inflammatory syndromes. Most often, it is the result of another inflammatory condition.
Inflammation is a normal response to heal the body by getting rid of pathogens and other irritants. When inflammation becomes chronic, however, it causes serious damage which outweighs the benefits of healing. In arterial inflammation, the wall of the artery is damaged, and subsequently repaired using a fatty plaque. This plaque can build up over time and block the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attack. The fatty deposits can build up over time and block the flow of blood to the heart. Deposits of the fatty material can also break free and build up further along the blood stream, also causing blockages. This can also occur in the brain, causing a stroke.
There are many factors that can contribute to a heart attack, but arterial inflammation is believed to be the most significant factor. It can also lead to other issues with the blood vessels, as inflammation weakens them. One of the biggest problems that arise is the degradation of the blood vessel over time. In a weakened state, blood vessels can form an aneurysm, a ballooning of the artery that can eventually burst and cause massive bleeding.
The presence of arterial inflammation can be symptomless, and damage to the vessels can take a long time to occur. Lab tests can be performed to detect both inflammation and the presence of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a strong indicator of low-grade inflammation, and it has been found to be a strong predictor of heart problems caused by atherosclerosis, most particularly heart attacks.
Arterial inflammation has varied causes. It is often associated with a chronic inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythemous, but can also result from other causative agents, such as high blood pressure. Many medical professionals also believe that stress plays a key role in the formation of the condition.
Usually, arterial inflammation is treated as a by-product of treating another disease or issue. Anti-inflammatory drugs are often prescribed, along with dietary and lifestyle changes. Other medications are given to address the other ongoing issues, such as statins or ACE inhibitors, if heart disease or high cholesterol is present. Aspirin is also commonly used, as it thins the blood and puts less pressure on the arteries.