Blood travels around the body through arteries. Arteries run all over your body carrying oxygen-rich blood to all the organs and extremities. In a healthy adult, blood can transport easily around the body delivering an adequate supply. But in a person with clogged arteries, blood flow becomes limited and slows down.
When blood supply becomes limited, especially to organs like the heart, brain, and lungs, the organ function can start to diminish. Worse yet, clogged arteries are linked to incidences of stroke, heart attack, and death.
Causes of Clogged Arteries
There are many contributing factors which can clog arteries such as:
High” bad” cholesterol and low” good” cholesterol: In the medical field, it is often thought that the two major contributors to arterial plaque formation include high levels of “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL). But new studies show that this doesn’t tell the whole story. Researchers have found everyone has “good” cholesterol, or HDL circulating in the blood and this can help to remove some of the “bad” cholesterol from plaque in clogged arteries. It is then transported back to the liver where it can be eliminated.
Cigarette Smoke: Studies show that smoking can increase the rate of atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart, legs, and aorta – the largest artery in the body.
High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure can be dangerous as it can increase the rate at which arterial plaque builds up. It can also accelerate the hardening of any clogged arteries.
Blood Sugar: Diabetes or elevated circulating blood sugar can be a major culprit for arterial plaque formation. Even those who have metabolic syndrome from elevated blood sugar can have an increased risk of plaque formation.
With all of these factors contributing to clogged arteries, can arteries ever be unclogged? Why yes, and in fact, clogged arteries can very well be prevented. With some healthier lifestyle choices, you can unclog your arteries and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Symptoms of Clogged Arteries
Chest Pain: Also known as angina, chest pain is common in those who have clogged arteries. This is mostly described as pressure or tightness in the chest and usually occurs on the middle or left side of the chest.
Angina is usually triggered by physical or emotional stress and can go away within minutes after stopping a stressful activity. For many people, especially women, the pain may be fleeting or sharp and felt in the neck, arm, or back.
Shortness of Breath: Patients with clogged arteries often express symptoms such as shortness of breath. If the heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, shortness of breath can occur along with extreme fatigue with exertion.
Heart Attack: A heart attack will occur when an artery is completely blocked. The classic signs and symptoms of a heart attack include crushing pressure in the chest and pain in the shoulder or arm. This may also be accompanied by shortness of breath and sweating.
Women are more likely to express less typical symptoms of a heart attack such as neck or jaw pain. A heart attack can also occur without any apparent signs or symptoms.
Natural Prevention Methods of Clogged Arteries
Don’t think that a diagnosis of clogged arteries is a death sentence; it’s not. Just because a doctor informs you that your arteries are clogged doesn’t mean you can’t start practicing healthier habits to reverse the damage. Here are some ways to unclog arteries naturally and prevent clogged arteries from forming again in the future.
- Eat or drink pomegranate seeds and juice
- Consume more whole grains
- Enjoy nuts
- Stick with lean meats
- Add spices to your meals
- Drink coffee for heart benefits
- Stick with olive oil
- Consume tea
- Eat fish
- Eat leafy greens
- Eat garlic
- Minimize animal protein consumption – milk and eggs
- Stock up on fiber
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
- Stop smoking
- Minimize alcohol consumption
- Monitor and control your diabetes
- Monitor and control your hypertension
- Monitor and control your cholesterol
- Reduce stress
- Maintain a healthy weight or lose some if you’re overweight
- Minimize your intake of fatty, greasy, high-fat foods
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Clogged Arteries
Leading a healthy lifestyle is the key to managing and prevention of clogged arteries. Luckily, the same lifestyle habits that can help treat coronary artery disease can also help prevent it from developing in the first place.
Move More: Improving your cardiovascular health and preventing cardiac issues should include becoming physically active. For those who are not used to regular exercise, it is best to start slowly and build up stamina. You should aim to get 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise at least five days per week.
Shed Pounds: Carrying extra weight increases LDL cholesterol levels which can also increase the risk for plaque build-up in the arteries. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of body weight can have a huge impact on health.
Stop Smoking and Drinking: Quitting smoking will start to improve your health from the first day. It is important to talk with your doctor before quitting so they can recommend a smoking cessation program and resources to make the transition easier.
There have been some recent studies that show that moderate drinking can actually increase HDL cholesterol levels. However, this should not be taken as a reason to start drinking or increase the amount of alcohol consumed. Alcohol can cause other health issues, so it is always better to avoid drinking if possible.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet: Diet is one of the biggest changes that can be used to improve heart health which will reduce the risk for the build-up of plaque in arteries. Just as years of bad eating can damage the body, consuming a healthy diet can also help heal it. Try a heart-healthy diet rich in good fats, and low amounts of bad fats and cut out sugar and processed foods.
To help to improve your heart health, be sure to stay physically active, eat a low-fat, low-salt diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and reduce stress.
Controlling conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can also help in the treatment of clogged arteries. By following these lifestyle and diet habits you can work your way to healthier, unclogged arteries, which will protect your heart in the long run.