Blocked arteries, also known as atherosclerosis, is caused by a build up of plaque on the insides of your arteries. The plaque, which may be composed of cholesterol, fat, calcium deposits and other materials, restricts the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. As the blood flow is reduced the potential for severe, possibly life-threatening repercussions increases. This condition can lead to stroke, heart attack and other serious problems, so getting checked for blocked arteries makes good medical sense.
Schedule an appoint with your primary health care provider. Provide him with a complete medical history including any family history of heart disease. Discuss whether your current state of health warrants further examination by a specialist or whether additional testing may be done in the office.
Have a complete physical examination. The physician will listen to blood flow through your arteries with a stethoscope. An abnormal sound may indicate a blocked artery. He will also check different parts of your body, such as your foot, leg and arms, for a proper pulse. A pulse that is weak or absent may indicated a blocked artery.
Provide blood samples for laboratory tests. Abnormal levels of certain proteins, cholesterol, sugar and fats in the blood may be indicative of an increased risk for blocked arteries.
Undergo diagnostic tests. There is not a single test that can be used to diagnose blocked arteries. Your physician may request a battery of tests that include an electrocardiogram (EKG), an echocardiogram, a chest X-ray and a stress test among others.
Consult with your physician regarding the best course of treatment for your condition. It is possible that treatment for blocked arteries will include medications, lifestyle changes and possibly even surgery. The ultimate goal is to stop the buildup of plaque in your arteries, to help you feel better by alleviating the symptoms, and to prevent the development of other cardiovascular diseases that are related to blocked arteries.
Blocked arteries usually involve no symptoms until they cause a medical emergency.