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Keep Your Arteries Clear

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Focus on Heart Health
Keep Your Arteries Clear

Atherosclerosis is hardening of the arteries, a common disease of the major blood vessels characterized by fatty streaks along the vessel walls and by deposits of cholesterol and calcium. 

Atherosclerosis of arteries supplying the heart is called coronary artery disease. It can restrict the flow of blood to the heart, which often triggers heart attacks—the leading cause of death in Americans and Europeans. Atherosclerosis of arteries supplying the legs causes a condition called intermittent claudication, which is characterized by pain in the legs after walking short distances.

People with elevated cholesterol levels are much more likely to have atherosclerosis than people with low cholesterol levels. Many important nutritional approaches to protecting against atherosclerosis are aimed at lowering serum cholesterol levels.

People with diabetes are also at very high risk for atherosclerosis, as are people with elevated triglycerides and high homocysteine.

Get your blood flowing freely and protect your arteries from hardening with a few healthy habits. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.

  • Trim the unhealthy fat: Protect your arteries by cutting meat, dairy fats, and foods containing trans fats out of your diet
  • Get to know tocotrienols: Take 200 mg a day of these potent antioxidants to slow down the build-up of plaque in your arteries
  • Take extra garlic: 900 mg a day of standardized garlic powder can help slow down the process of hardening of the arteries
  • Lower your homocysteine levels: Reduce the blood levels of this potentially toxic substance by taking a daily B-vitamin combo containing folic acid (400 to 1,000 mcg), vitamin B12 (50 to 300 mcg), and vitamin B6 (10 to 50 mg)


Atherosclerosis is typically a silent disease until one of the many late-stage vascular manifestations intervenes. Some people with atherosclerosis may experience angina (chest pain) or intermittent claudication (leg cramps and pain on exertion). Symptoms such as these develop gradually as the disease progresses.

Live Right

Virtually all doctors acknowledge the abundant evidence that smoking is directly linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Quitting smoking protects many people from atherosclerosis and heart disease, and is a critical step in the process of disease prevention.

Obesity, type A behavior (time conscious, impatient, and aggressive), stress, and sedentary lifestyle are all associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis; interventions designed to change these risk factors are linked to protection from this condition.

Aggressive verbal or physical responses when angry have been consistently related to coronary atherosclerosis in numerous studies. A low level of social support, especially when combined with a high level of outwardly expressed anger has also been associated with accelerated progression of coronary atherosclerosis.

Copyright © 2010 Aisle7. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Aisle7 content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Aisle7. Healthnotes Newsletter is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Aisle7 shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. AISLE7 is a trademark of Aisle7.

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