Atherosclerosis is a long word to get your head around… so in this video and blog, I’ll break down and explain what is Atherosclerosis, using a foam roller and a pair of socks.
It sounds strange but if you are a visual learner, this will really help you understand what atherosclerosis is and why it is so bad.
The other benefit of this slightly bizarre description is that as a qualified Personal Trainer, you can then explain it to your clients, educating them on why it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle, for reducing the risk of a myocardium infarction (heart attack).
Learning Point 1: The Big Picture
We have lots of blood vessels in our body, they are made up of capillaries, veins, and arteries… We can get Atherosclerosis in any of these blood vessels, however, we are going to focus in on the coronary arteries.
Learning Point 2: Coronary Arteries
Coronary Arteries are responsible for taking blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the heart muscle itself. They act in the same way we have arteries that take oxygenated blood to our biceps or quadriceps. However, we need the heart muscle to continue to contract every minute of every day, so the coronary arteries are very important parts of our circulatory system. If we get a blockage in the Coronary Arteries, this can lead to a heart attack!
Learning Point 3: What is Atherosclerosis?
So, what is atherosclerosis? It is the narrowing of our blood vessels due to the accumulation of atheroma. Atheromas are made up of Calcium, Fatty Deposits, and Fibrous Connective Tissue Debris. These atheromas can build up over time, getting larger and larger, and gradually restricting blood flow.
Learning Point 4: Why is Atherosclerosis bad?
Imagine being on a motorway where the lanes are gradually closing, leaving you with just one lane open. This builds up the pressure, as the same amount of traffic is trying to get through a smaller space (one lane).
This is exactly the same for the blood vessels, the build-up of atheroma is like closing the lanes of the motorway, and before you know it you have the same amount of blood trying to pass through a much smaller space. This is a cause of high blood pressure otherwise known as hypertension.
Atheromas can build up so much that they cause a full blockage.
This total blockage is like closing the motorway entirely; no traffic is getting past. In the case of the coronary arteries no blood, oxygen or nutrients are able to get to the heart muscle itself.
This means the heart is unable to contract.
This is called a myocardium infarction, or a heart attack.
So, that’s why we need to know about Atherosclerosis and we also need to be able to teach this to clients.
Test your knowledge with three mock questions:
[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd question]
Q1: What is the name given to the narrowing of a blood vessel due to the accumulation of atheroma?
C. Myocardial Infarction
Q2: What are atheroma made up of?
A. Cartilage and Bone
B. Water and Fatty Deposits
C. Calcium, Fatty Deposits, and Fibrous Connective Tissue Debris
D. Calcium, Protein Deposits, and Bone
Q3: Which blood vessel serves oxygen to the heart muscle itself?
B. Coronary Arteries
C. Pulmonary Arteries
Q1 = B, Q2 = C, Q3 = B
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Hayley “What is Atherosclerosis” Bergman