Arteries are types of blood vessel that carry oxygenated blood to various organs of the body. A healthy artery has a smooth inner wall and that blood easily flows through them. However, some people develop blocked arteries. A blocked artery results from buildup of plaque on the inner wall of the artery. An arterial plaque can therefore reduce blood flow.
A blocked artery greatly increases the chance of a stroke or a heart attack that can cause disability and even death.
Arteries located in the neck called the carotid artery can become blocked which can result to stroke. This may result to temporary or permanent damage to the brain. The person suffering from stroke can experience weakness, headache, confusion and trouble speaking.
Renal arteries supply blood to the kidneys. Blockages to the renal arteries can cause high blood pressure and high blood pressure.
The femoral artery which supplies blood to the leg, if blocked, may result to weakness and pain in the leg. Numbness and sores may also develop on the foot if the femoral artery is blocked.
Because of the dangers, it is very important to be aware of its causes and treatment to prevent further consequences.
CAUSES OF BLOCKED ARTERIES
A disease of the artery called atherosclerosis is one of the major causes of death in the United States.
Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries that silently and slowly blocks the arteries.
Blocked arteries result from the buildup of plaque in the inner walls of the arteries. Arterial plaque reduces the flow of the blood.
The accumulation of fat, calcium, cholesterol, fibrin and cellular waste in the inner walls of the artery is called plaque. Plaque growth results to atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure increases the risk of having plaque buildup because it hastens the hardening of clogged arteries.
Diabetes is also a culprit in plaque buildup.
High level of bad cholesterol contributes to arterial plaque formation.
Other risk factors may include sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and family history.
Blockages usually do not cause any symptoms until a major heart attack or major stroke occurs.
At other instances, symptoms may include chest pain, sweating, nausea, heart palpitations, weakness or dizziness, and shortness of breath. Chest pain called angina is a result of reduced blood flow to the heart.
Blocked arteries in the carotid artery may produce symptoms such as slurring of words, loss of vision, inability to move a leg or an arm and weakness and numbness on one side of the body.
Blocked arteries in the peripheral artery may cause gangrene, cold feet and leg pain.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
A number of medications can controlthe accumulation of arterial plaque. Doctors often prescribe cholesterol lowering drugs such as Atorvastatin, Fluvastatin and Lovastatin. Blood pressure lowering drugs such as beta blockers and renin inhibitors are also widely available in all drugstores.
Aspirin is scientifically proven to reduce the likelihood of blood clot formation. It is a salicylate that works by reducing substances in the body that is most likely to cause fever, pain and inflammation. It is also used to treat and prevent heart attack, chest pain and stroke. Aspirin is recommended by doctors to be used for cardiovascular conditions. It is important to note that all medications must be taken under the supervision of a licensed doctor.
There are also several surgical procedures that treat clogged arteries and prevent additional plaque formation such as stent replacement, bypass surgery and balloon angioplasty.
The major way to prevent plaque buildup is to practice a healthy lifestyle. Make major lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet with low saturated fats and cholesterol. Eat foods with low sugar and simple carbohydrates. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to maintain a healthy weight. Make it a habit to exercise regularly. Keep your cholesterol and blood pressure down. Have a good amount of sleep. And most importantly stop or avoid smoking. Always remember that prevention is better than cure.