Atherosclerosis is fairly common, especially as we age. It happens when fat and cholesterol in the blood form plaque which can build up inside the artery walls. If this plaque begins to block the arteries, it can slow and limit the flow of blood to your organs. When this happens it can cause serious problems in blood vessels throughout the body, including heart attack, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and kidney disease. Doing so can help you prevent problems down the line. Use this condition center to learn more about atherosclerosis, create a list of questions to ask your health care provider and get practical tips.
A study of U. Drive yourself only as a last resort. If you have risk factors for coronary artery disease — such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes, a strong family history of heart disease or obesity — talk to your doctor. He or she may want to test you for the condition, especially if you have signs or symptoms of narrowed arteries. If you have too many cholesterol particles in your blood, cholesterol may accumulate on your artery walls.
Eventually, deposits called plaques may form. The deposits may narrow — or block — your arteries. These plaques can also burst, causing a blood clot. Coronary artery disease is thought to begin with damage or injury to the inner layer of a coronary artery, sometimes as early as childhood.
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The damage may be caused by various factors, including:. Once the inner wall of an artery is damaged, fatty deposits plaque made of cholesterol and other cellular waste products tend to accumulate at the site of injury in a process called atherosclerosis.
If the surface of the plaque breaks or ruptures, blood cells called platelets will clump at the site to try to repair the artery. This clump can block the artery, leading to a heart attack. Risk factors often occur in clusters and may build on one another, such as obesity leading to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. When grouped together, certain risk factors put you at an even greater risk of coronary artery disease. For example, metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL, or "good," cholesterol, elevated insulin levels and excess body fat around the waist — increases the risk of coronary artery disease.
Sometimes coronary artery disease develops without any classic risk factors. Researchers are studying other possible factors, including:. The same lifestyle habits that can help treat coronary artery disease can also help prevent it from developing in the first place.
These 10 Clean Eats Will Unclog and Protect Your Arteries
Leading a healthy lifestyle can help keep your arteries strong and clear of plaque. To improve your heart health, you can:. Coronary artery disease care at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission.
Coronary Artery Disease
This content does not have an English version. This content does not have an Arabic version. Overview Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients coronary arteries become damaged or diseased. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic. Development of atherosclerosis If you have too many cholesterol particles in your blood, cholesterol may accumulate on your artery walls. Share on: Facebook Twitter.
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References Ferri FF. Coronary artery disease. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor Philadelphia, Pa. Accessed Oct.
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Coronary heart disease. National Lung, Heart, and Blood Institute. Usatine RP, et al. Wilson PWF.
Good news for coffee lovers. This beloved pick-me-up helps keep your arteries clean. One study found that drinking three cups a day significantly lowers your risk for developing atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries. Add it to your diet : Drinking three cups a day, you say? No problem! Try and make your coffee as healthy and beneficial as possible.
Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce damage to arterial walls.
2. Fatty fish
Inflammation levels have been shown to have a direct effect on arteriosclerosis — the hardening of the arteries. A study on rats shows that this antioxidant-rich spice can reduce fatty deposits in the arteries by over 25 percent. Add it to your diet : The easiest way to add turmeric to your diet is by making turmeric tea. You can also make our easy, five-ingredient golden milk.
Drink pomegranate juice for optimal heart health. The powerful pomegranate has been shown to clear clogged arteries and improve blood flow. Add it to your diet : Buy percent pure pomegranate juice with no added sugar or snack on pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate juice can be added to your smoothies or mixed into a festive mocktail, and seeds are great sprinkled on your morning oatmeal.
Both antioxidants and vitamin C are good news for artery health — and citrus fruits have plenty of both. Studies have shown that vitamin C has a powerful role in reducing heart disease risk and the flavonoids found in them help protect arterial walls. Add it to your diet : Drink plenty of lemon water throughout the day or start your morning with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice or a grapefruit half. Also, keep an eye out for the bergamot fruit when in season or bergamot tea.
Bergamot has been shown to decrease cholesterol levels as effectively as a statin drug according to research published in the International Journal of Cardiology and Frontiers in Pharmacology. The dietary fiber found in whole grains help improve blood cholesterol levels and protect the heart against disease.
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Recent studies have also found that diets with plenty of whole grains are linked to thinner carotid artery walls. These arteries are responsible for delivering blood to your brain. Thickening of carotid arteries causes atherosclerosis buildup and increases risk for heart disease and stroke. Add it to your diet : The American Heart Association recommends that at least half of your grains come from whole grains. The recommended daily intake is 25 grams of fiber each day for women and 34 grams per day for men.
You can do this by consuming whole grains such as brown rice; whole-grain pasta, barley, or oatmeal; or quinoa. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, have been proven to specifically help prevent clogged arteries and protect against vascular disease. Add it to your diet : Need some new inspiration to eat more veggies?