The term ‘atherosclerosis’ refers to a medical condition that is characterized by the accumulation of fatty deposits on the walls of the arteries. Clogged arteries have an adverse effect on the blood flow, which causes serious health problems. This write-up provides information on the causes, symptoms, and treatment of arterial blockage.
Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body. These are an integral part of the circulatory system. Health problems arise when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the organs is restricted due to the presence of plaque inside the arteries. Plaque comprises calcium, fat, cholesterol, cellular waste, or fibrin. Over a period of time, plaque hardens, thereby causing the arteries to become constricted. This condition is medically referred to as atherosclerosis. This condition can affect any artery in the body. It is referred to as coronary artery disease, when the arteries that carry blood to the heart become clogged by plaque. As a result, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. The affected individuals are likely to experience chest pain. Plaque buildup could also affect carotid arteries in the neck, renal arteries, or the peripheral arteries that are located in the extremities.
Arterial blockage occurs as a result of accumulation of fat and cholesterol deposits within the arteries. The risk factors for this condition include:
☞ Elevated LDL (Bad cholesterol) levels
☞ Unhealthy eating habits
☞ Sedentary lifestyle
☞ High blood pressure
☞ Alcohol abuse
☞ Diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing arterial blockage.
Some of the commonly reported symptoms of arterial blockage include:
☞ Profuse sweating
☞ Shortness of breath
When the oxygenated blood doesn’t reach the heart, the affected person is likely to experience:
☞ Chest pain
☞ Rapid heartbeat
When the carotid arteries that are located on either side of the neck get clogged, it could give rise to transient ischemic attacks that might give rise to:
☞ Numbness in one side of the body
☞ Loss of vision on one side
☞ Slurred speech
Arterial blockage in legs could be indicative of peripheral artery disease. This condition may give rise to symptoms such as:
☞ Pain in the legs
Diagnosis and Treatment
Certain diagnostic tests are conducted to diagnose or rule out this condition. These include:
☞ Blood tests for checking the cholesterol level
☞ Cardiac stress tests
☞ Angiography to locate the blocked arteries and determine the extent of the blockage
If the presence of arterial plaque has been confirmed, then drugs are prescribed. These include:
☞ Drugs that help dissolve plaque
☞ Calcium channel blockers to block the entry of calcium into the smooth muscle cells of arteries
☞ Beta blockers for lowering blood pressure
☞ Drugs for lowering cholesterol levels
Surgical intervention may be required in case of a severe blockage. Procedures such as a balloon angioplasty, bypass surgery or stent placement might be performed to open up the arteries for ensuring unimpeded flow of oxygen-rich blood. Certain lifestyle-related changes would need to be made for preventing arterial blockage. These involve improving dietary habits and quitting smoking and drinking alcohol. Since stress can also elevate blood pressure, one must stay stress-free.
If arterial blockage is diagnosed on time, medical treatment coupled with lifestyle-related changes can surely help in alleviating the symptoms. The wise thing to do is to start paying attention to your heart’s health while you are young. A healthier lifestyle can go a long way in preventing this condition. So, lead an active life and follow a healthy diet to lower the risk of this serious medical condition. After all, prevention is better than cure.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.