Warning Signs of Clogged Arteries
Arteries are responsible for carrying oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. When these blood vessels are healthy, their smooth inner walls allow blood to flow through them effortlessly; however, when plaque builds up in and on these walls, blood flow is reduced or completely blocked. Warning signs associated with clogged arteries include leg pain and chest pain. It is the location of the narrowed or blocked artery that determines the symptoms an individual experiences.
Unfortunately, most people have no obvious signs as the plaque begins building up; however, once the artery begins to narrow, symptoms may develop. The severity and location of the narrowing/blockage determines the warning signs an individual experiences.
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) Affects the Limbs
PAD refers to a condition in which the blood supply to the extremities is limited due to plaque buildup. Leg pain is a symptom of peripheral arterial disease and sometimes makes walking difficult. Shortness of breath and extreme fatigue following physical activity are both potential warning signs of PAD.
Peripheral arterial disease can lead to aortoiliac disease. This disease takes years to develop; therefore, seeking treatment for PAD early on can prevent the onset of this more serious form of the peripheral arterial disease and the painful symptoms that accompany it.
Common symptoms of aortoiliac disease include:
- Cramping or pain in the calves, buttocks and/or thighs while walking.
- Pain in the toes, numbness or a cold feeling in the legs while at rest.
- Foot and/or leg ulcers may develop. Due to lack of blood flow, these ulcers will not heal.
- If an aortoiliac disease is left untreated, the circulation in the feet and legs may be lost completely, which could result in the development of gangrene, leading to loss of the limb.
Coronary Artery Disease Affects the Heart
Symptoms of coronary artery disease include:
- A squeezing pain or a feeling of pressure in the chest, neck, back, arms, jaw and/or shoulders (i.e., angina). The pain tends to worsen with activity and subside during rest. This type of chest pain can be triggered by emotional stress.
Carotid Artery Disease Affects the Brain
Stroke symptoms due to carotid artery disease include:
- The inability to move an extremity or extremities.
- Facial drooping.
- The sudden onset of numbness or weakness in the limbs and/or face (an entire side of the body may be affected).
- Visual problems affecting one or both eyes.
- Difficulty understanding others and/or slurred speech.
- The onset of a severe headache that has no known cause.
- Loss of balance and/or dizziness.
Should you or a loved one experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
What are the Risk Factors for Atherosclerosis?
Since plaque consists of cholesterol, fat and calcium, a diet that consists of foods high in saturated fats, trans fats and salt play a role in the development of atherosclerosis; however, there are several other factors that can increase the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.
Other risk factors for atherosclerosis include:
- Having diabetes and/or hypertension.
- Living a sedentary lifestyle.
- Smoking cigarettes.
While there is nothing an individual can do to decrease his or her genetic disposition for developing atherosclerosis, the other potential risk factors can be managed.
If you are concerned that your arteries may be clogged or you have been diagnosed with heart disease, contact Tri-City Cardiology today at 480-835-6100 to schedule an appointment. We can assess your arterial health and determine if any cardiac problems are present, then we can work with you on your path to a healthier, more active lifestyle. We have six state-of-the-art locations and 24 board-certified cardiologists available to serve you.