When fatty plaques clog our blood vessels, particularly the arteries, the immune system starts reacting to these foreign substances and stimulates inflammatory processes.
The fat, fibrous tissue and immune cells form large plaques over time, which can narrow artery lumen, to a condition called atherosclerosis. The most common targets are the heart (coronary arteries), neck (carotid arteries) and legs (peripheral arteries).
Experts are still not sure what is the main stimulus for the development of atherosclerosis, but they believe it stems from damage to the lining of the arterial wall, that can be caused by:
- High ”bad” cholesterol and low ”good” cholesterol
- Diabetes and increased blood sugar levels
- Family history
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoke
- Sedentary lifestyle
Plaque accumulated on the inner walls of the arteries is made from various substances that circulate in the blood, like fat, cellular waste, calcium, cholesterol, and fibrin, which is involved in blood clotting.
However, the first fatty plaques develop in the 20s, and grow gradually over the years, increasing the risk of strokes and heart attacks in people in their 60s and 70s.
Yet, there are people who are completely unaware of their arteries being clogged, until they begin to experience more severe symptoms and health issues.
These are the four most common signs of clogged arteries you need to know in order to be able to treat the issue on time and prevent additional complications:
1. Chest pain – The lack of breath and chest pain are due to the coronary arteries that normally carry blood to the heart muscle, becoming clogged.
2. Leg pain –Peripheral artery disease often leads to pain in the legs, which, if ignored, might become chronic and cause infected wounds that do not heal.
3. Impotence (in men) –Peripheral artery disease leads to a reduced blood flow that can be a reason for an erectile dysfunction in men.
4. Temporary stroke-like symptoms – the extreme narrowing of carotid arteries can often lead to symptoms like dizziness, severe headaches, a sudden numbness in the face or extremities (usually on one side of the body), and difficulty speaking and understanding words. This condition is medically known as transient ischemic attack, which often precedes a full-fledged stroke.