Clogged arteries – They are a familiar concern regarding heart health, and we’ve all heard of their dangers. But, what exactly does the term mean? What is a clogged artery, and how does it become that way? To understand the full danger behind this condition, we must first understand the answers to these questions, as well as the potential consequences.
What is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is the medical term for arteries that have become thick, stiff, and narrowed over time due to a buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits, also referred to as plaque. The danger behind atherosclerosis is restricted blood flow throughout the body and the potential for blood clots. While most people think of clogged arteries as being a problem that occurs only in the heart, the truth is that atherosclerosis can occur anywhere in the body, including the extremities in a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD).
What Causes Clogged Arteries?
There are many factors that can contribute to weakening of the arteries and increasing deposits of fat and cholesterol. Conditions commonly associated with cardiovascular stress are, unsurprisingly, also typical sources behind atherosclerosis. Having any of the following conditions can put patients at increased risk, particularly if they are not well-managed:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Inflammation associated with conditions like lupus or arthritis
What are the Complications of Clogged Arteries?
Leaving any health problem unaddressed and unmanaged is going to prove problematic for health and so too will ignoring clogged arteries. While a cardiologist can help mitigate risk from atherosclerosis through medications or recommended lifestyle changes, failing to follow these directions can have detrimental results including heart attack or stroke, and in the case of PAD, possible limb amputation.
When Should You Worry About Clogged Arteries?
Everyone should be mindful of the possibility and symptoms of clogged arteries, particularly those suffering from an associated health condition such as those listed above. In addition to these, possible signs of atherosclerosis can include angina (chest pain or pressure), numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, or arrhythmia among several others. If you suffer from any of these, contact your physician immediately.
If you believe you may be suffering from atherosclerosis or have any of the associated health concerns, contact Cardiovascular Institute of the South, and request an appointment with any one of our highly-skilled cardiologists today.