People believe in a common misconception that blocked arteries are only a problem of elderly people. But in many cases by the time we reach our 20s, clogs already exist within our arteries. That’s why plenty of people affected by this disease do not understand what’s happening until it’s too late. It is very important to know the signs and stay alert so you can visit the doctor on time.
Pain in the calves, thighs, or hips
Leg pain during activities like walking can be a sign of clogged arteries. This means that your limbs are not receiving enough blood flow. The symptoms may include muscle pain or cramping in legs (or arms). The location of the pain depends on where the clot or narrowed artery is situated.
Chest pain (or angina) is the result of reduced blood flow to the heart. It can be felt as tightness, numbness, heaviness, pressure, or burning. People usually do not experience this symptom when resting because it is triggered by physical or emotional exertion. In some cases, clogs can be so bad that angina may signal that a person is having a heart attack.
Temporary loss of vision on one side
The carotid arteries supply our eyes and brain. If these arteries get blocked, the result is temporary vision loss or blurred vision in the eye on the same side. A full blockage leads to a stroke. That’s why it is very important to be aware of this sign.
Lower back pain
Lower back pain is a serious sign you should not ignore. When blood flow to the lower back is reduced, the disks between the vertebrae become fragile. And this leads to painful pinched nerves. It is usually the first symptom among people with clogged arteries: according to a study, 10% of people in developed countries already have advanced blockages in their abdominal aorta by the time they are 20 years old.
Shortness of breath
This symptom develops when coronary arteries become damaged or diseased. People experience it because their heart is not able to pump enough blood to meet their body’s needs. This research suggests that people often do not consider the shortness of breath to be a serious problem. But sometimes it may be the only sign of the presence of serious coronary artery disease that may need treatment.
Cold feet or hands
Cold feet can be caused by Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). This problem takes place when narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the limbs. Poor wound healing or a weak pulse in the feet are also signs that need to be checked with a doctor. Moreover, the presence of PAD may indicate that there is a more widespread arterial disease in the body that can affect the brain or the heart causing a stroke or heart attack.
Fatigue and dizziness
According to Harvard Health Publishing, fatigue is less common as an indication of coronary artery disease, but it can happen. These symptoms can develop as a result of reduced levels of oxygen from poor blood flow. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claims that these symptoms are more common among women.
What increases the risk of clogged arteries?
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the factors increasing risk levels are as follows:
- Having unhealthy blood cholesterol levels. This suggests high levels of bad cholesterol and low levels of good cholesterol.
- Having high blood pressure. Blood pressure should not exceed140/90 mmHg.
- Smoking. Smoking damages and tightens blood vessels raises cholesterol levels and raises blood pressure. Moreover, it doesn’t allow enough oxygen to reach the body’s tissues.
- Being overweight or obese. A body mass index between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. The higher index means that a person is obese.