Blocked arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, occur when plaque builds up inside the arteries and restricts blood flow. This can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart attack and stroke. While some people with blocked arteries may not experience any symptoms, there are several signs and symptoms that can indicate the presence of the condition.
Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of blocked arteries:
- Chest pain or discomfort: Chest pain or discomfort, also known as angina, is a common symptom of blocked arteries. The pain or discomfort may feel like pressure or tightness in the chest, and it may be triggered by physical activity or emotional stress.
- Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing can also be a symptom of blocked arteries. This can occur when the heart is not receiving enough blood and oxygen, and can be particularly noticeable during physical activity or exertion.
- Fatigue: Fatigue or weakness can also be a symptom of blocked arteries. This can occur when the heart is not functioning properly due to reduced blood flow, and can make it difficult to perform daily activities.
- Nausea and dizziness: Nausea and dizziness can be a symptom of blocked arteries, particularly if they are accompanied by chest pain or shortness of breath.
- Heart palpitations: Heart palpitations, or a sensation of the heart racing or pounding, can be a symptom of blocked arteries. This can occur when the heart is working harder to compensate for reduced blood flow.
- Peripheral artery disease: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the legs and feet. Symptoms of PAD can include pain or cramping in the legs during physical activity, as well as numbness or tingling in the legs or feet.
It’s important to note that not everyone with blocked arteries will experience these symptoms. In some cases, blocked arteries may be detected incidentally during a medical test or exam. Additionally, some people with blocked arteries may experience no symptoms at all, particularly in the early stages of the condition.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, or if you have risk factors for blocked arteries such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of the condition, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider. They may recommend tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), stress test, or angiogram to evaluate the function of the heart and the presence of blocked arteries.
In addition to seeking medical attention, there are several lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the risk of blocked arteries and improve overall cardiovascular health. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help to reduce the risk of blocked arteries. Avoiding foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and salt can also help to improve cardiovascular health.
- Getting regular exercise: Regular exercise, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, can help to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of blocked arteries. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for blocked arteries. Quitting smoking can help to improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of complications.
- Managing medical conditions: Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes can increase the risk of blocked arteries. Managing these conditions through medication and lifestyle changes can help to improve cardiovascular health.
- Managing stress: Chronic stress can contribute to the development and progression of blocked arteries. Managing stress through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help to improve cardiovascular health.