We receive a lot of videos on social media about recipes to clean the arteries from the accumulated cholesterol in them, so how accurate are these tips? How does cholesterol collect on the walls of blood vessels? Is it possible to get rid of it?
High levels of cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of the formation and growth of what are called “vascular plaques”.
Plaque is a mass of fatty deposits, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin. As they build up, the walls of the arteries become thick and stiff.
The buildup of plaque in the arteries increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to to Harvard Medical School.
What are the arteries?
Arteries are a type of blood vessel, and a major component of the circulatory system, which is a complex network that also includes capillaries and venules. These tubes carry oxygenated blood through your body, which helps fuel all bodily functions. As long as the blood vessels are clear and open, blood can flow freely.
Sometimes plaque builds up inside the blood vessels; Which causes narrowing of the arteries. This condition is known as atherosclerosis, which develops gradually and often worsens with age.
As the plaque grows, the blood flow in the artery may decrease. Depending on the severity and location of the plaque buildup, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the plaque from the arteries or to bypass the blocked artery completely. This procedure aims to prevent complications.
Can arteries be cleaned of cholesterol?
The answer comes from cardiologist Dr. Christopher Cannon of Harvard Medical School, who says it’s not possible to get rid of plaque, but we can shrink it.
And the doctor means that it is not possible to clean the arteries from plaque completely, but it is possible to reduce the size of the plaque.
What causes plaque in the arteries?
The body sends white blood cells to trap cholesterol as it lodges in the artery wall. The cholesterol then turns into foamy cells that make more fat and cause more inflammation.
“If your blood pressure goes up, it puts pressure on the thin wall of the plaque, which can rupture and form a clot, causing a heart attack,” says Dr. Cannon. 3 out of 4 heart attacks occur when plaque ruptures.
Larger plaques can block blood flow, but they are usually covered by thick, fibrous coverings that can resist rupture, and are often treated by inserting a wire mesh tube (stent) near the blockage to widen the artery.
Good and bad cholesterol
There are two types of cholesterol:
And when you have too much LDL cholesterol, excess of it floats through your body and may stick to the walls of your arteries. In contrast, good cholesterol helps remove bad cholesterol and prevents plaque formation.
Cleaning arteries from cholesterol
Doctors target the smaller plaques, Dr. Cannon says.
Cholesterol is absorbed from plaques by lowering blood cholesterol levels. The drugs used most often to lower LDL cholesterol levels are statins, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor) and rosuvastatin (Crestor). Statins block an enzyme in the liver that promotes cholesterol production.
Another medication called ezetimibe (Zetia) may be added to inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive tract. “Plaque shrinkage was seen with strong statins when the LDL cholesterol level was less than 70 mg/dL,” says Dr. Cannon.
Intensive lifestyle changes have also been shown to reduce plaque, so Dr. Cannon recommends:
Eat the Mediterranean diet
As it can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30%, and it is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish, and low in red or processed meats; With moderate amounts of cheese.
Smoking damages the lining of the arteries, and quitting helps raise levels of good cholesterol.
Exercise can raise good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, burn body fat, and lower blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help lower bad cholesterol levels.
It is recommended to do 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise.
At what age does plaque build up in the arteries?
While age is a risk factor for clogged arteries, an unhealthy lifestyle may increase the risk of developing clogged arteries at a younger age, according to a report on the “Healthline” website (healthline).
Usually, atherosclerosis is more common in the sixties and seventies, and the risk factors for atherosclerosis increase in males after the age of 45 and in females after the age of 55.
Research suggests that high cholesterol in younger adults increases the risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.