Someone in the prime of their life -- a professional sports star, teen athlete, marathon runner, or other seemingly healthy person -- isn't supposed to collapse and die from heart disease. But it occasionally happens, making sudden cardiac arrest front-page news.
The rare nature of sudden cardiac arrest among the young is precisely what makes it so attention-grabbing. According to the Cleveland Clinic, sudden cardiac death kills 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 300,000 athletes under age 35, more often males...
Plaques grow slowly and blood flow is preserved for years, so atherosclerosis causes no early symptoms. "When symptoms finally do occur, the blockages are severe and usually irreversible," explains Silverman.
Diseases Caused by Atherosclerosis: Beyond the Heart
The entire body is dependent on arteries for oxygenated blood. "Because arteries everywhere can be affected, there is no organ system atherosclerosis can't reach," says Lori Mosca, MD, MPH, PhD, director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "And atherosclerosis, when present, is usually widespread."
Take this short trip through the arteries of the body to consider the less well-known complications of atherosclerosis.
Arteries carry blood to the kidneys, where our entire blood volume is filtered more than 30 times a day. If atherosclerosis slows the flow, chronic kidney disease can result. This can eventually lead to end-stage renal disease, or total kidney failure requiring dialysis.