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Can I Unclog My Arteries Naturally?

Medical illustration of plaque build up in artery demonstrates the damage caused by poor diet and lifestyle habits

Most of us know someone who has needed an angioplasty and lives with one or more stents in their arteries. Many of us also know people who have needed a heart bypass or CABG. Ultimately, the reason for either procedure is the buildup of plaque in the arteries that has slowly narrowed them to the point where the heart is not receiving enough oxygen-rich blood. If left untreated, this condition known as atherosclerosis can lead to significant chest pain and a heart attack.

But for those of us that have spent the best part of our lives sitting on the couch and eating poorly, is there any hope? Is there any way that we can avoid the eventuality of requiring a procedure to unclog or bypass our arteries? The short answer is “sort of.”

First, it is essential to know that because of genetic predispositions and how our bodies react to our diets, we are different and will accumulate plaque differently even if we have the same general lifestyle habits as our friends or family. This means that while one of you may require a procedure, the other may have more time to make the necessary changes to prevent it.

Second, any plaque that has accumulated, especially hardened, on the arterial walls is unlikely to be eliminated significantly without an invasive procedure. The best we can do is reverse the lifestyle choices that promote plaque buildup. Of course, seeing your cardiologist and understanding if the condition requires an invasive procedure is essential.

The moral of the story is that while it is never too late to improve your diet and exercise habits, it is essential to limit the damage as soon as possible. Reversing plaque buildup in your arteries isn’t possible, but getting treatment is. For some, a class of drugs known as statins it can help significantly. For others, their degree of plaque buildup may be more suited to an invasive procedure like angioplasty with stenting, atherectomy, or a bypass.

What Can I Do Right Now?

That said, there are ways to keep your arteries in tiptop shape. The first is to stay well hydrated. Hydration physically thins your blood, allowing it to flow more easily through the body and reducing the symptoms of included veins.

Healthier. Reducing processed foods containing bad cholesterols and saturated fats can also reduce the likelihood of plaque buildup in the arteries. Instead, choose lean meats like chicken and fish, whole vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Avoid empty carbs like sugar, white rice, and white bread. Limit your consumption of red meat and try to eat at home more often so you can be in control of what you consume.

Exercise is generally one of the healthiest activities you can pursue. There are several exercises to get you back on track that don’t require heavy strain or impact. Some great exercises to start with include a simple daily walk, swimming, or biking. Be sure to speak to your cardiologist before starting any new exercise regimen.

Smoking causes the constriction of blood vessels around the body and is very problematic for someone with atherosclerosis. Give your cardiovascular system a chance by quitting as part of your larger lifestyle overhaul.

Of course, part of our job is providing you with the tools and knowledge to improve your heart health. Be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our cardiologists to learn more about your current situation and the best way to minimize the risk of further cardiovascular disease.