Why are clogged arteries dangerous?
Apart from blocking the vessels from letting sufficient blood flow through them, they also prove dangerous when a sudden clot blocks the pathway completely. This can lead to a sudden cut-off of blood supply to those areas leading to severe consequences like paralysis from stroke or fatality from stroke and heart attack. They also affect the functioning of pretty much every system and organ in your body as your age advances.
How are clogged arteries formed?
Clogging of blood vessels happens from a combination of factors:
- Constant inflammation of the inner lining of the blood vessels due to various factors like genetic predisposition, stress, diabetes (insulin resistance), or infections etc.
- The inflamed areas inside the blood vessels start accumulating crystals of cholesterol and other compounds. Once the first few layers are laid down, the deposit grows slowly over a period of years to decades, as blood continues to flow.
- As the deposition progresses more the 50%, the blood flow loses its steady flow and deposits compounds even faster. Exercise induced chest heaviness (angina pain) generally appears once the blockage reaches to 70% or more.
- Finally, when a small blood clot, upon reaching the restricted flow area, can not pass through and blocks the flow completely, sometimes triggering even more clotting leading to heart attack.
Some of the factors that increase your chances of developing clogged arteries are:
- High LDL cholesterol - LDL is a type of protein-fat compound that helps transport fat from the digestive system to tissues for deposition and is so, called bad cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- Metabolic diseases, obesity, and diabetes
- Constant stress and anxiety
- Lack of exercise
Here are some of the food items that may help to reduce the chances of clogging in arteries:
It is important to understand that perhaps the most important cause of atherosclerosis, leads to the walls of the arteries opening up slightly and making it easier for the cholesterol to enter the walls of the arteries and start the process.
Hence, the recommendations to keep diabetes in check, like reducing the overall amount of calories and the speed with which you consume those calories, work in reducing the chances of developing atherosclerosis in the long term as well.
Apart from the approach of increasing exercise and reducing diet and quality of diet for preventing the chances of developing diabetes or keeping sugar levels under check, the following food items have additional properties which may prove helpful in the reduction of chances of developing clogged arteries:
- Green vegetables - Components like nitrates reduce inflammation and improve circulatory system function. Potassium is present in rich quantities in green vegetables and helps with preventing the hardening of blood vessels.
- Fish - Sea fish like tuna and salmon are rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids - compounds that help in reducing the amount of deposits in the artery walls.
- Oil - Olive oil is considered the best for cardiovascular health due to the presence of anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the overall inflammatory state of the blood vessels and the chances of deposits from forming. Other oils like musterd oil sunflower oil rice bran oil, canola oil are also consider good if taken in limited amount. Palm oil, coconut oil (Saturated oils), hydrogenated oil (Vanaspati ghee) and oil with Trans fate (Reused oil) are considered most unhealthy for heart.
- Nuts & Seeds - Nuts like almonds, pistachio and walnuts are known to increase the HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol and reduce the LDL cholesterol
- Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli - Reduce inflammation and improve defences against the formation of new deposits
- Berries - Fresh berries contain antioxidants which help reduce the overall level of inflammation in your body
- Chocolate - Dark chocolates are considered to be rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which have high antioxidant properties