Coronary Artery Obstruction and Associated Health Risks
The arteries can harden due to aging, but there are many factors that can accelerate this process, such as tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle or a poor diet which leads to being overweight.
The coronary arteries are responsible for transporting oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. When these arteries become clogged, it produces what is known as coronary artery disease, which causes an inadequate supply of blood to reach the heart, making it an extremely harmful health problem.
If the arteries become completely blocked, then damage to the heart is very possible. The worst consequence is the death of the heart muscle, and the most troubling thing of all is that coronary artery disease is now the leading cause of death in the world.
People suffering from blocked coronary arteries are at a high risk of having a heart attack or myocardial infarction. The disease affects both men and women, and in both cases the death rates are quite high.
What are the causes of heart disease?
The obstruction of the coronary arteries is mainly caused by the build up of fatty and waxy deposits inside the arteries. These, in turn, are composed of cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood. In general, the main causes of coronary heart disease are:
- Thickening of the artery walls that provide nourishment to the heart muscle.
- Accumulation of fatty plaque within the coronary arteries.
- Narrowing of the coronary arteries.
- Blockage of blood flow due to a clot formed within the coronary arteries.
- Inflammation of the coronary arteries.
The obstruction can occur in one or more coronary arteries, regardless of their location. Likewise, there are different degrees of severity.
By preventing proper blood flow through the heart muscle, this disease can cause symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, among others.
Symptoms of heart disease
One of the biggest complications with coronary artery blockage is that it usually develops over many years. This presents a high risk, because in its early stages it doesn’t show specific symptoms and they may not show themselves until the disease is well advanced and difficult to treat.
The symptoms of coronary disease differ in each person and in each case, but in general those that suffer from it usually have the following symptoms:
- Discomfort or chest pain (angina)
- Difficulty breathing
- Edema or fluid retention in the feet
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue after exercise
- Pain in the arms or shoulders
- Excessive sweating
Risk factors for coronary artery obstruction
As people age, in most cases there is usually a hardening of the arteries. However, there are certain risk factors that can accelerate this process or contribute to clogged arteries.
- Gender: the male gender has a greater risk of heart attack compared to women
- Age: men are at a greater risk from age 45 on, while women increase their risk from 55 years on
- Genetic factors: if there is a family history of heart disease
- Obesity and overweight
- Leading a sedentary life
- Having high cholesterol
- Suffering from hypertension
- Suffering from diabetes
- Excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks
- Excessive consumption of fatty foods, sugars, cholesterol and calories
Is it possible to prevent blockage of the coronary arteries?
Like many other chronic diseases, a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing coronary heart disease. Below we will give you some advice that you can apply in your daily life to help prevent blockage of the coronary arteries.
- Maintain a healthy weight and avoid being overweight.
- Increase your consumption of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which are vital to clean the arteries and improve heart health. At the same time, you should avoid eating saturated fats, red meat and processed meats.
- Start a good exercise routine that is suitable to your age and physical abilities.
- If you have the bad habit of smoking, start looking for help to quit.
- If you suffer from hypertension or diabetes it is very important to receive regular medical checkups to prevent the serious consequences of both diseases.
- A daily low dose of aspirin can help prevent blockage of the coronary arteries, but it’s very important to first consult a physician before taking it.
- Increase your consumption of good cholesterol and try to lead a healthy lifestyle to reduce levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides.