This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Carl Weathers died of complications due to heart disease. According to his death certificate, the 76-year- old “Rocky” actor’s cause of death was atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, which caused him to die suddenly on Feb. 1 at his home in Venice, Calif..
The death certificate, which was released on Feb. 9, notes that the “Mandalorian” and “Predator” star had lived with heart disease for several years.
Earlier this month, Weathers’s family shared a brief statement that the actor died “peacefully in his sleep.”
“Carl was an exceptional human being who lived an extraordinary life,” the statement read. “Through his contributions to film, television, the arts, and sports, he has left an indelible mark and is recognized worldwide and across generations. He was a beloved brother, father, grandfather, partner, and friend.”
The star leaves behind sons Jason and Matthew Weathers.
What is atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?
Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is a condition caused by a build-up of plaque on the artery walls. Plaque, which is made up of fatty substances, cholesterol and calcium, cellular waste products and fibrin (a protein that helps with blood clotting), restricts arterial blood flow and causes the arterial walls to become thick and stiff.
Atherosclerosis develops slowly over time, and although it can impact the heart’s artery walls, it can also impact arteries of other organs such as the brain and kidneys or impact blood flow to other areas of the body, like the legs.
According to the American Heart Association, ASCVD includes conditions such as coronary heart disease (build-up of plaque to the heart), peripheral artery disease (restricted blood flow to the limbs), aortic atherosclerotic disease (plaque buildup of the aorta) and cerebrovascular disease (impacting blood flow to the brain); these ASCVD-related conditions are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally and the second leading cause of death in Canada.
What are the symptoms of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, ASCVD doesn’t cause symptoms until the artery is narrowed or blocked. Sometimes, a blood clot blocking the artery can break and cause a heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of ASCVD-related conditions depend on the location of the impacted arteries but can include
chest pain or pressure (angina)
stroke symptoms such as numbness or weakness in the arms and legs, slurred speech, drooping facial muscles or temporary vision loss
leg pain when walking
decreased blood pressure in impacted limbs
Who is at risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?
What can be done for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?
In addition to a physical exam, there are several tests, including a doppler sonography and cardiac catheterization, that can help evaluate blood flow in different areas of the body.
Depending on the severity of the plaque build-up, medical providers may recommend medications like blood thinners, and medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In more advanced cases, doctors may recommend surgery to help widen the arteries that are compromised or remove blockages.
What can I do to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease?
In addition to regular physical exams, a healthy lifestyle is the best way to protect yourself from ASCVD.
The American Heart Association recommends aiming for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables, legumes and seafood. They also recommend avoiding foods that re high in salt, sugar and full-fat dairy products. In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, avoiding alcohol and tobacco are key in lowering your chances of developing ASCVD.
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