Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Make a Big Difference When it Comes to Preventing Blocked Arteries

Blocked arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, can have serious effects on the entire body, but fortunately, if you pay close attention to risk factors, dietary factors and exercise, you can potentially prevent this from happening.

Atherosclerosis is the process by which the artery lining becomes hardened and develops plaque buildup that eventually leads to obstruction of normal blood flow through the arteries to the extremities causing peripheral artery disease, PAD.

Coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States, occurs when the arteries that supply blood to heart muscle become hardened and narrowed. More than 7 million Americans die each year from CAD.

About 10 million Americans have PAD, a condition that puts them at four to five times higher risk of heart attack or stroke. In PAD, narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs, often the legs, but can also affect arteries that carry blood from the heart to the head, arms, kidneys and stomach.

Symptoms can be silent

Atherosclerosis in general can be difficult to diagnose because well over 50 percent of people with coronary artery disease or peripheral artery disease have no symptoms.

Diagnosis can be made in several ways. If a patient has two or more risk factors, a stress test might be ordered. Vascular studies may be done to look for reduced blood flow in the neck or leg. In addition, if you are a smoker, stop smoking now. If you are diabetic be sure to eat properly and manage your statin medication to reduce cholesterol. And exercise, exercise, exercise! Exercise is one of the best “medicines” to maintain a healthy body.

Risk factors for atherosclerosis include:

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