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Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Arteries

The leading cause of mortality in the United States is heart disease. Heart disease occurs when the arteries become clogged with plaque and are unable to carry oxygen and nutrients to other tissues in the body, causing cell death. 

However, heart disease is largely preventable with a few tweaks to your lifestyle.

To help you out, we asked our specialist at i-Vascular Center, Dr. Anwar S. Gerges, to share some of the ways you can keep your arteries healthy.

1. Quit smoking 

Smoking cigarettes reduces HDL, or “good” cholesterol, and has the potential to damage the artery wall. About one in five deaths from cardiovascular disease are related to smoking. 

The risk of developing cardiovascular disease is increased even further for women who smoke and take birth control pills or are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. 

2. Cut trans fats 

Fats, including saturated fat, are critical for optimal function. Fats help your brain function properly. They act as chemical messengers and enable the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. 

However, one type of fat isn’t necessary and can contribute to the hardening of the arteries: trans fats. 

Trans fats were introduced as a cheaper alternative to butter and lard in 1911, and they were soon used to increase shelf life and cut costs in a large number of baked goods. 

Unfortunately, over a century later, trans fats are now known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and are deemed by the FDA as unsafe to consume.

Trans fats are still used to this day in a number of processed products, including biscuits, cakes, cookies, dairy-free whipped cream, dairy-free coffee creamer, margarine, microwave popcorn, and refrigerated dough products. 

Ultimately, the highest-quality fats are those that come from unprocessed foods, such as avocados, coconut oil, fish, and grass-fed sources of meat.

3. Eat less sugar 

Excess blood glucose can damage your artery walls, making them more susceptible to damage. 

Blood glucose levels are directly correlated with how much sugar you eat. The body breaks all sources of carbohydrates down into glucose. Therefore, make sure your meals are balanced with enough proteins and fats, and focus on complex carbohydrates, which are absorbed more slowly.

4. Stay active

Exercise may prevent the hardening of the arteries by stimulating the production of endothelial cells, which are the cells your arteries are made of. 

Exercising outside could be even better, as sun exposure boosts nitric oxide, a substance that relaxes the blood vessels and prevents hypertension. 

Determine the health of your arteries 

Dr. Gerges diagnoses and treats plaque build-up in the arteries, which supply blood to the limbs. 

Plaque build-up in the limbs may indicate plaque build-up in other areas of the body. If you suspect you may have plaque, or if you have a family history of heart disease, contact us to schedule an appointment at our offices in El Paso and San Antonio, Texas. 

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