Our heart pumps 24/7 to supply blood to entire body via seamless network of blood vessels (arteries). Blood carries oxygen and other nutrients to each and every part of our body so that it can survive. If the blood flow is obstructed to a specific area, that area weakens or dies. One such common cause of obstruction in our arteries is called a plaque (atherosclerosis).
Image source: National institute of Health
Plaque is made up of fat deposits inside the arteries. Common arteries affected are the ones in neck, heart, kidneys and legs. The plaque may completely obstruct the artery or may cut loose and block a distant artery causing problems. Depending upon which artery is blocked, it may cause stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, circulation problems in extremities and other issues.
Formation of plaque do not start when you have a heart attack or a stroke. This process takes years and often starts in early childhood. Common risk factors are high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, obesity, unhealthy diet, smoking and family history of atherosclerosis.
What you eat matters. How much you move matters. You can prevent or at least delay the plaque formation by lifestyle changes like eating healthy – more fruits, veggies, lean proteins, avoiding fatty/fried/high carb food, taking your prescribed medications regularly if you are on one, managing your weight and regular exercise.
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