Our blood flows through two kinds of blood vessels, arteries and veins. Now, especially in arteries, which have a smaller lacuna for the blood to pass through, there is a certain amount of pressure exerted on the artery walls while the fluid passes on.
In someone with a high blood cholesterol level, the arteries lose their elasticity because cholesterol accumulates on the walls of their arteries making them hard and fibrous.
This causes the blood a lot of difficulty to reach its destination and delays the absorption of oxygen in body tissues; hence the breathlessness often experienced by people with cholesterol problems.
This phenomenon of an otherwise elastic artery turning fibrous and hard thanks to cholesterol and fat accumulation on its walls is called atherosclerosis. This can lead to further cardiovascular diseases including myocardial infarctions.
In the U.S., cardiovascular disease is considered the leading cause of death, claiming approximately 600,000 lives every year.
It is a silent killer since the condition does not cause any symptoms. That is, until the problem becomes more severe.
Symptoms of Cardiovascular Diseases in Some Important Arteries:
The symptoms of clogged arteries differ with the arteries being affected. Here are a few.
1. Renal Artery:
Chronic kidney disease can result from the clogging of these vital arteries and that might slowly lead to impaired kidney function over time. Early symptoms are rare and by the time the condition is more or less severe, it can lead to a number of signs; these include, loss of appetite, nausea, tiredness, concentration problems, numbness or itchiness, and swelling in the feet or hands.
The carotids as you might know if you are a Kill Bill fan are the ones in your neck that lead to your brain. Atherosclerosis of said carotids can lead to breathing problems, sudden weakness, confusion, severe headaches, loss of consciousness, blurry vision, trouble with speech, paralysis, trouble walking, dizziness, unexplained falls, and loss of coordination or balance. These are de facto signs of a stroke.
3. Peripheral arteries:
This may cause pain, numbness and inability to use concerned muscles in the arms and legs.
4. Coronary arteries:
The narrowing of this set of VERY vital arteries (which lead to the heart), cause CHD or coronary heart disease. Symptoms include angina pectoris and inability of the heart to pump out enough blood. Shortness of breath too is very common and will possibly be the first of the symptoms.
7 Foods You Should Eat to Keep Your Arteries Cleaner:
Here are some natural foods/substances that can help reduce risks of artery blockage.
An age old Indian cure, this is one of the no-brainers. Besides numerous other medicinal uses, curcumin, the active principle or polyphenol in Turmeric is known to cure artery blockage.
In 2011, a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, doctors found that turmeric could reduce cholesterol and help avert early atherosclerotic lesions better than the cholesterol-lowering drug lovastatin.
Also, a 2006 study on mice suggested that curcumin can help prevent artery damage associated with carotid artery blockage thus reducing the risks of CHD.
Vampire kryptonite is also cholesterol kryptonite, surprisingly. In a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis in 1999, researchers found that garlic could prevent plaque build-up in the arteries. There are other studies that back this fact up.
It also acts as a blood-thinner, thereby reducing risks further.
3. Cayenne Pepper:
Capsaicin, in cayenne and other peppers, helps reduce plaque in arteries and LDL-cholesterol build up. This in turn reduces risks of CHD and other cardiac disorders.
Kimchi, the Korean dish, using fermented cabbage and peppers as its main ingredients has been found to slow the atherosclerotic process.
A study conducted in 2007 and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that an active compound in kimchi called 3-94-hydroxy-3,5-dimethoxyphenyl can help prevent the development of aortic atherosclerosis in rabbits on a high cholesterol diet.
5. Sesame seeds:
A three-month long study on animals, published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2006, concluded that the fatty acid content in sesame oil could effectively inhibit atherosclerosis lesion formation, blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol levels in mice.
The oil is a key ingredient in Asian cooking.
6. Pomegranate Juice:
This is one of the richest antioxidants in the market. The punicic acid content also helps in preventing plaque formation in arteries. According to a 2009 study, consumption of the juice helps in reducing CHD risks as well.
7. Ground Flaxseed:
Its high fibre content and alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 acid that can lower inflammation and blood pressure) content help in reducing artery blockage.
There was a 46% reduction in atherosclerosis in rabbits which consumed flaxseeds according to a 1997 study.
It was concluded that generous flaxseed supplementation in the diet is an effective treatment for reducing cholesterol caused atherosclerosis.
It is a good idea to grind your flaxseed because they contain greater amounts of omega-3. On the other hand, the polyunsaturated fats in pre-ground flaxseeds will break down over longer exposure to oxygen, and it can become rancid causing indigestion.
Other Remedies and Precautions:
There are other foods and artificial nutrients too that can help in reducing the risks of atherosclerosis. There is a lot of material online for anybody to take a look at.
Regular exercise and a balanced diet not too generous on the fats and sugars also work wonders. Exercises that reduce stress are important, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qigong.
Aerobic exercises, gardening, walking, or running can also help combat atherosclerosis. Exercise for about 30 minutes daily for five days a week.
In conclusion, before taking blood thinners by yourself, you would want to consult a doctor. This article is just to help you choose a diet and certain supplements that might help you on the road to a life with a healthy heart.