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New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center

Clogged Arteries: What Causes Them and Why They Are Dangerous?

Do not overlook your condition if you have been diagnosed with clogged arteries or ignore symptoms of atherosclerosis, including chest pain or pressure, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and arrhythmia. Contact your heart doctor immediately as these symptoms can be dangerous and lead to life-threatening conditions such as a heart attack or stroke without any warning. At the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center, Dr. Steven Reisman uses the most advanced diagnostic equipment and accurate tests to detect risk for heart disease and comes up with personalized treatment and rehabilitation plans to help you live a better quality of life.

What Is Atherosclerosis?

Clogged Arteries
Atherosclerosis is the medical term for clogged or blocked arteries that become stiff, thick, and narrow due to the buildup of fatty deposits in the blood.

Also known as hardening of the arteries or blockage, atherosclerosis accumulates plaque in the blood vessels. Made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances, plaque can build up on the walls of the arteries. When arteries become narrow and stiff, it limits the blood flow and reduces the supply of oxygen to other parts of the body.

Atherosclerosis does not only occur in the heart. It can take place anywhere in the body, including the extremities resulting in a condition known as peripheral artery disease (PAD). Atherosclerosis is the underlying issue that leads to coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases if it is not treated. Clogged arteries are a significant medical problem that needs timely treatment.

What Causes Clogged Arteries?

There are no exact causes of clogged arteries. Weakening of the arteries and increasing fat and cholesterol deposits are the major factors that lead to the clogging of blood vessels.

The following factors can increase your risk of clogged arteries:

  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Excessive tobacco usage
  • Inflammation resulting from lupus or arthritis
  • High-stress levels
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyle
  • Unhealthy diet

Risk factors often occur together, and one might trigger another. Obesity can cause diabetes and high blood pressure, and when grouped, these risk factors can increase your chances of developing arterial blockage. Discuss your risk factors with an experienced heart doctor to prevent clogging of arteries and the resulting complications. The doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and medications to slow the extent of blockage, manage symptoms and reduce the chances of heart attack or stroke.

What Are the Symptoms of Clogged Arteries?

Symptoms of blocked or clogged arteries can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Pain or numbness in legs, hands, or feet
  • Discoloration of the skin in the affected area
  • Hair loss
  • Decreased or absent pulses, especially in the feet
  • Sores or ulcers that do not heal

Atherosclerosis can be silent for many decades and often goes undetected during the initial stages. It makes it even more dangerous as it can result in painful symptoms all of a sudden. It is only when the plaque grows to a specific size, and blood flow is affected by the narrowing of the artery that symptoms manifest themselves. In some cases, the symptoms only manifest themselves in angina pain, including chest pain and shortness of breath.

Read more: Warning Signs of Clogged Arteries

What Complications Can Result From Clogged Arteries?

Clogged arteries should not be left untreated or unmanaged as they can result in severe and even life-threatening consequences in the long run.

Complications of clogged arteries include:
Clogged Arteries

  • Ischemia – Ischemia is the inadequate blood supply to an organ or body part. It occurs whenever oxygen is interrupted from an area of the body, and tissues get damaged quickly without oxygen.
  • Arrhythmia – Inadequate blood supply to the heart or damage to the heart tissues can also interfere with the heart’s electrical impulses causing abnormal heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmia.
  • Heart failure – If some areas of the heart do not receive oxygen and essential nutrients for a long time due to insufficient blood flow, or if a heart attack damages the heart, it becomes too weak to pump blood to the body heart failure.

You must seek expert medical advice on how to treat blocked arteries and manage atherosclerosis to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Atherosclerosis affects arteries that supply blood to the heart, brain, and lower extremities, including legs. The doctor will run some tests and diagnose your condition accurately. He will recommend medications and lifestyle changes to prevent your blockage from worsening and avoiding complications like a heart attack or stroke and even limb amputation in severe cases of peripheral artery disease.

Stay cautious and keep an eye on signs of clogged arteries, particularly if you suffer from associated health conditions, as they can develop into a critical problem that requires prompt medical attention to prevent an emergency. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Reisman at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center to learn more about your symptoms and their management to enjoy long-term health and wellness. He will help prevent your condition from turning serious by coming up with the most personalized solutions to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Dr. Steven Reisman | Cardiologist in New York City

Dr. Steven Reisman is an internationally recognized cardiologist and heart specialist. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and a founding member of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology.

Dr. Reisman has presented original research findings for the early detection of "high risk" heart disease and severe coronary artery disease at the annual meetings of both the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Dr. Reisman was part of a group of doctors with the Food and Drug Administration who evaluated the dipyridamole thallium testing technique before the FDA approved it.

Dr. Steven Reisman's academic appointments include Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California and Assistant Professor at SUNY. Hospital appointments include the Director of Nuclear Cardiology at the Long Island College Hospital.

This page was published on Oct 11, 2021, modified on May 26, 2022 by Dr. Reisman (Cardiologist) of New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center

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