Your arteries are like highways. When functioning properly, they allow for the delivery of oxygenated blood throughout your body. Healthy arteries are open, smooth and traffic-free. However, some people develop clogged arteries, or arterial plaque, blocking the flow of blood throughout their body. When this buildup of cholesterol happens in your arteries, you’re put at a higher risk of dangerous medical complications.
One of the (many) scary things about clogged arteries is that they often don’t raise any red flags until something major, like a heart attack, occurs. However, according to WebMD, when the artery is blocked by 70 percent or more of arterial plaque, symptoms might start rising. It’s important to recognize the common signs of clogged arteries while there’s still time to “unclog,” and prevent those life-threatening conditions.
One of the most common symptoms of clogged arteries is chest pain or angina. That pain comes from reduced blood flow to the heart, hindered by the plaque in the arteries leading to the heart. It can feel like pressure in your chest, and while it can feel like a heart attack, it’s just a warning sign. However, heed the warning: If you experience this symptom, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get it checked.
Shortness of breath
If you climbed up the stairs but feel like you just finished a marathon, it might be an indicator of arterial plaque. Note the symptom and let your doctor know as soon as you can.
Heart palpitations is another common warning sign of clogged arteries. Your heart may suddenly race or pound, or it could feel like it’s skipping beats. While most people experience the sensation once in a while, recurrent and overwhelmingly strong palpitations might be due to reduced blood flow to the heart.
Fatigue or dizziness
If you feel extreme weakness, fatigue or dizziness, it might be from the obstructed blood flow. Regardless of its underlying cause, dizziness is never a good sign. Contact your doctor and let her know your symptoms, so you can move forward accordingly.
Cold hands and feet
Do you often feel strange sensations in your extremities? If the arteries leading to your arms and legs are clogged, you might experience pain, numbness or coldness.
Lower back pain
Lower back pain is one of the symptoms that’s so subtle, it’s often overlooked. When the blood flow to your lower back is cut off, the discs between your vertebrae become more fragile and painful. While lower back pain is common, if experienced with the other symptoms, it should be noted as a warning sign and reported to your doctor.