How do arteries get blocked?
Blood vessels that carry oxygen rich blood to all parts of the body are called arteries. Ideally, the arteries should have smooth inner walls and blood should flow through it easily. But, sometimes, plaque can build up on the inner lining of the arterial wall, and may become either hard and adherent or unstable and friable (likely to break off). The arteries that were once soft and elastic can become hard and rigid and the plaques narrow the lumen of the artery, thus making it narrow. This reduces the flow of blood and, in severe cases, can block blood flow in the artery.
Blocked arteries to the heart increase the risk of heart attacks and heart failure and those to the brain can cause strokes. It is important to understand this medical problem and ensure that you are not at risk. If unfortunately, you are, take steps to reduce the risk.
What are the signs of a blocked artery?
Usually, there are symptoms that warn us to the presence of a clogged artery to the heart: –
• Shortness of breath on exertion
• Easy fatigability
• Palpitations- Increased heart rate
• Chest pain with sweating at rest or exertion
If these symptoms manifest, you should see a cardiologist and get a complete health test done.
If you put off consulting a doctor and ignore these symptoms, you may put yourself at risk for a heart attack. This occurs because the arteries leading to the heart have plaque build-up and have gotten clogged.
When the arteries leading to the brain or limbs get similarly affected, that could lead to cerebral artery disease or peripheral artery disease respectively. That may cause transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs. Symptoms of TIAs are weakness or numbness on one side of body, slurred speech, loss of vision, etc. Sudden dizziness and instability may also occur.
Symptoms of peripheral artery disease include leg pain, cold legs, gangrene, etc.
Tests for clogged arteries
• Cholesterol level tests – Monitors cholesterol levels
• Chest X-Ray – Checks for effects on heart or lungs
• Ultrasound and Doppler– Checks flow of blood through the arteries
• ECG – Records electrical signals as they travel through the heart
• Echocardiogram -Produces images of heart using sound waves
• MRI – Evaluates for coronary artery disease
• Cardiac stress test – Helps measure blood flow to heart muscle
• Cardiac calcium scoring – Measures the amount of calcified plaque that is present in the coronary arteries
• Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test – Helps determine how much of plaque build-up has occurred in the arteries.
• Angiogram – A special dye is injected into the bloodstream to help view blood flow through the arteries to the heart
These tests are important in assessing plaque build-up in the arteries and checking for hardened or narrow arteries that could be constricting blood flow and putting you at risk for heart attacks or stroke.
Kauvery Hospitals offer a heart health package which includes the most advanced, state of the art tests to assess your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Their Heart Health Package includes a Carotid IMT Scan and a Coronary Calcium Scoring CT. Their experienced medical teams will assess your heart functions and figure out if you are at risk and help you lessen the risk. Click here to find out more about the heart health packages.