What’s a plaque?
Plaques develop after the bad blood lipids, i.e. LDL, have been deposited on the vessel wall. The LDL leads to an increased number of inflammatory cells being brought to the vessel wall. These attack the LDL and build it into the vessel wall.
So-called foam cells are formed. Over time, several foam cells form real grease spots in the vessel walls. Besides the formation of foam cells, the cells of the vessel wall are also stimulated to grow.
They thus form connective tissue, which is deposited on the foam cells. This mixture of connective tissue and fat deposits forms a plaque. As a result, the composition of the plaques is changed by further remodelling processes, so that blood clots can form on them and hard calcifications develop.
Stages of arteriosclerosis
The arteriosclerosis becomes noticeable on the vessels in the later stages through their calcium deposits. Even before this, however, changes in the structure of the vessel wall occur. These remodelling processes are also integrated into the stages of arteriosclerosis, as they represent the preliminary stages of the disease.
These secondary diseases can also be divided into stages again. CHD is classified according to the number of affected vessels and the degree of vascular constriction. The stages of pAVK are based on the walking distance that is still possible despite the arteriosclerosis in the legs.
- Those who have healthy vessels that are elastic and do not show any constriction are called stage 0. – Initial damage to the vessel wall is usually caused by fat deposits. This is known as stage I.
- In stage II these wall damages are already advanced. The vessel has reacted to the fat deposits and surrounded them with connective tissue. In this enclosed area, remodelling processes now take place.
- Stage III is the final stage of the disease. During this stage, the vessel walls are severely damaged, the arteries become very narrow and secondary diseases such as PAD or coronary heart disease already exist. In the case of arteriosclerosis, the blood lipid values are of primary interest.
A distinction is made between total cholesterol, good (HDL) cholesterol, bad (LDL) cholesterol and other fats such as triglycerides. In the case of arteriosclerosis, these blood lipid values are usually all too high. However, the ratio between HDL and LDL in particular is decisive for the development of the disease. In most cases there is too much of LDL and too little of HDL.