Arterial plaque buildup is a condition known as atherosclerosis. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up on the walls of arteries over time. It is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium, and other substances.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for plaque buildup in arteries. The best treatment for you will depend on the severity of your condition, your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and your overall health.
The first step in treating plaque buildup in arteries is to make lifestyle changes. This includes:
- Eating a healthy diet: Eat a diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases your risk of plaque buildup in arteries. Aim to lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking damages the lining of arteries and increases the risk of plaque buildup. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your cardiovascular health.
If lifestyle changes are not enough to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, your doctor may prescribe medications. Medications that can help to treat plaque buildup in arteries include:
- Statins: Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications for plaque buildup in arteries. They work by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
- Other cholesterol-lowering medications: Other medications that can help to lower cholesterol levels include bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, and niacin.
- Blood pressure medications: High blood pressure can damage the lining of arteries and increase the risk of plaque buildup. Blood pressure medications can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Anticoagulants: Anticoagulants are blood thinners that can help to prevent blood clots from forming. Blood clots can block arteries and cause heart attack or stroke.
In some cases, medical procedures may be necessary to treat plaque buildup in arteries. Medical procedures that can be used to treat plaque buildup in arteries include:
- Angioplasty and stenting: Angioplasty is a procedure that widens narrowed arteries. A thin tube called a catheter is inserted into an artery and threaded to the site of the blockage. A balloon is then inflated to widen the artery. A stent, which is a small mesh tube, may also be placed in the artery to help keep it open.
- Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG): CABG is a surgery that creates a new pathway for blood to flow around blocked arteries. A vein or artery from another part of the body is used to create the new pathway.
Which treatment is right for me?
Your doctor will work with you to determine the best treatment for your plaque buildup in arteries. The best treatment for you will depend on the severity of your condition, your other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and your overall health.
If you have plaque buildup in arteries, it is important to work with your doctor to manage your condition and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
By making lifestyle changes, taking medications as prescribed, and getting regular checkups, you can help to keep your arteries healthy and reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.