Whether you have perfect numbers for blood pressure and cholesterol or not, your arteries may gradually become clogged as you age. You may lower the risk with exercise, diet, prescription medication and dietary supplements, but there are changes that occur anyway. Clogged arteries are called atherosclerosis, and the highest risk factor for it is age. This is why it is more common among men and women who are in their sixties and seventies. However, some elderly people never develop significant atherosclerosis.
The first signs of atherosclerosis may be seen in people who are in their twenties and thirties, but at that age, is not a major health concern, and it may not be for years. It starts with streaks of fat in the artery that gradually becomes plaque that can break off and form a clot. People who have an unhealthy lifestyle are at a higher risk of developing clogged arteries at a younger age. However, you can reduce the risk by avoiding certain factors, such as:
- Too much alcohol
- Not enough exercise
- High cholesterol through a poor diet
Since the fat enters your arteries from your food, our specialists may recommend that patients avoid eating too much of the following items:
- Ice cream
- Egg yolks
- Fried chicken
- French fries
- Cream cheese and sour cream
- Whole milk
- Fatty meat
These foods usually contain saturated fat and trans fats. Saturated fat is found in many food items, especially meat and dairy products, and it promotes the buildup of plaque in the arteries and the increasing of bad cholesterol levels in the blood. Saturated fats may also inhibit anti-inflammatory benefits of good cholesterol. Foods that contain fats from fish, nuts and whole grains will boost the anti-inflammatory benefits.
Trans fats are even worse. They are found in commercial baked goods, fried foods and stick margarine. They increase bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and weaken your body’s natural safeguards against heart disease. According to research done at Harvard University, 228,000 heart attacks could be avoided each year if trans fats were banned from the American diet.
Fats that are healthy for your heart include omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats. Olive oil, nuts, canola oil, avocados and fish are examples of unsaturated fats. They can actually remove bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol.
Plaque naturally builds up in your arteries as you age, and your artery walls become less elastic. This could happen in any artery, not just the ones in the chest. Schedule a consultation at Peripheral Vascular Associates to learn more about your artery health. Our medical team will be happy to answer any questions you have! For your utmost convenience, we have offices in San Antonio, Boerne, Corpus Christi, Del Rio, Floresville, Hondo, Jourdanton, New Braunfels and Uvalde. Contact us today to book your appointment.