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Warning Signs of Clogged Arteries

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 3/31/2010

The warning signs of clogged arteries can vary, but are important for those who are over 40 or have certain health problems to know. Learn the warning signs, prevention and treatment of clogged arteries.

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    How Arteries become Clogged

    Arteries are part of the blood transportation system used by the body. Over time, the inner walls of arteries can become clogged. This can also happen due to health problems. The plaque that builds up along the inner walls can slow down the blood flow or block it completely.

    Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, fibrin and cellular waste. When plaque begins to build up, the body responds multiplying and cells in the artery walls and by producing secretions that can add to the problem.

    Additionally, when plaque builds up, the arteries can become hard and narrow. This is called atherosclerosis, and it can damage arterial walls.

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    Why Clogged Arteries are Dangerous

    When the arteries become clogged or completely blocked off, the risk for stroke, heart attack and death increases. Additionally, other health problems such as carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease and coronary artery disease can develop in the patient.

    Clogged arteries limit the ability of the body to transport oxygen, via the blood stream, throughout the body. Though they don’t always occur, there are warning signs of clogged arteries that can help a patient realize they need treatment.

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    Warning Signs of Clogged Arteries

    Unfortunately, sometimes the first warning sign of clogged arteries is a heart attack or stroke. This is why regular health examinations and living a healthy lifestyle that reduces risk are important.

    When clogged artery warning signs are present, they include chest pain, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, sweating, weakness, loss of vision on one side, limb mobility issues, slurring of words, slow healing of foot injuries, gangrene, cold feet, leg pain and shortness of breath.

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    Clogged Artery Prevention and Treatment

    How clogged arteries are prevented or treated will depend upon various factors, including the patient’s lifestyle, medical history and family medical history.

    The most common preventative measures used include a low fat diet, and getting to and maintaining a healthy body weight. Other preventative measures are more focused on the lifestyle of the patient, and include quitting smoking, creating and maintaining a regular exercise program, managing stress and the use of medications to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

    Once the arteries become clogged, medication, stents or surgery may be used to return good blood flow to the affected arteries. A stent is a small metal device that is placed in the blood vessels to help restore proper blood flow.

    In 2010, Former U.S. President Bill Clinton underwent the stent insertion procedure, receiving two stents. He had previously (2004) undergone quadruple bypass surgery. He is an example of how living a normal life after either procedure is possible for patients.

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    References

    Clogged Arteries (Arterial Plaque). Reviewed by Matthew Hoffman, MD. October 13, 2008. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/clogged-arteries-arterial-plaque

    Stents open clogged arteries. Elizabeth Landau, CNN. February 11, 2010. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/11/chest.pain.clinton/index.html