When someone says ‘clogged arteries,’ what comes to mind? Probably some cheeseburgers, maybe some cake. While this is slightly accurate, let’s dig into what the real cause behind atherosclerosis is, how it affects your risk of stroke, and what you can do about it.
What Is Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis is the ‘hardening of the arteries,’ caused by the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels. This plaque consists of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and other substances that stick to the inner lining of your arteries. When the arteries leading to your heart become hardened by plaque, it’s called coronary heart disease – the #1 killer in the United States. When the arteries leading to your brain are affected by atherosclerosis, it can lead to a stroke – the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
Risk Factors of Atherosclerosis:
Do you, or anyone you know, suffer from any of these risk factors?
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
If so, they’re at risk of damaging their arteries and eventually causing a stroke or heart attack.
How Can Atherosclerosis Cause a Stroke?
A stroke is caused when the supply of blood to the brain is cut off. When plaque is present in your arteries, a piece of plaque can break off and clog the artery. Also, a blood clot can form on the plaque’s surface and eventually stop blood flow completely, causing a stroke or heart attack. In fact, atherosclerosis causes half of all strokes – yikes!
How Can You Treat Atherosclerosis?
Unfortunately, once plaque builds up in your arteries you can only slow or stop it from getting worse. That’s why prevention is the best way to go. But if it’s too late for that, treatment will usually include one or more of the following:
- Relieving symptoms
- Reducing risk factors
- Lowering the risk of blood clots forming
- Widening plaque-clogged arteries
- Preventing atherosclerosis-related diseases
TLC: Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes
To lower risk factors, there are 3 important “therapeutic lifestyle changes” that you need to make: healthy diet, physical activity, and weight management. You can learn about the guidelines for TLC here. Bringing healthy habits into your everyday life will slowly allow you to take back your health and reduce your risk of these chronic diseases. And if you’re having trouble fitting more fruits and veggies into your diet learn about our 10 little tricks here.
We covered the hard truth in this article, and hopefully it showed you how important it is to take care of your body and your blood vessels. That’s why we’re trying to bring you the best tools and resources to live a healthier life. So c’mon, show yourself a little TLC… Tender Love & Care.