Atherosclerosis is a process of thickening or hardening of the arteries. It happens due to the deposition of triglycerides and fatty substances in the form of plaques on the walls of arteries. These plaques bring impairment in the blood flowing through the arteries.
The condition aggravates with age. It is more prevalent in men above 45 and women above 55. People with family history of cardiovascular diseases are much more prone to atherosclerosis. People suffering from high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, tobacco use and smoking, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity are under high risk zone.
Medical researches have shown that the patient will benefit by reducing the risk factors responsible for atherosclerosis. And this is exactly where the vitamins might play a major role in combating atherosclerosis. The risk factors involved in atherosclerosis are the outcome of a certain kind of life styles which give rise to overweight, high blood pressure, less physical mobility, diabetes and exposure to tobacco.
Oxidized LDL cholesterol is said to be one of the major causes for atherosclerosis. A research done a decade back has suggested that food containing antioxidant vitamins can reduce the level of LDL cholesterol and its oxidative properties.
Antioxidant vitamins like Vitamin E, Vitamin C or a combination of these may play a major role in inhibiting lipid peroxidation. In addition to this, these antioxidant vitamins in blood also lessen the risk of coronary artery diseases as has been emphasized in some of the observational studies. Thus there are few researches that have examined some kind of linkage between vitamins and the beginning of the hardening of the arteries.
To investigate the link between vitamins and atherosclerosis and the extent of the thickening of the blood vessels, researches tried to assess intima-media thickness and stenosis among males and females of over 50 and 60. The investigation showed that the extent of atherosclerosis among males was more than that among females of better socioeconomic status having high concentration of beta carotene and vitamin C. Also there were more vivid linkages between the thickening of arteries and hyper tension, systolic blood pressure, smoking status, age and LDL cholesterol level among men, while in women these were just risk factors.
With decreasing level of vitamins, carotene thickness of the blood vessels was found to be increasing. Although the linkages were found only with men, it became obvious that anti oxidant vitamins may halt the process of atherosclerosis reducing the risk of heart attack.