The arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. Each artery is a muscular tube lined by smooth tissue and has three layers:
- The intima, the inner layer lined by a smooth tissue called endothelium
- The media, a layer of muscle that lets arteries handle the high pressures from the heart
- The adventitia, connective tissue anchoring arteries to nearby tissues
The largest artery is the aorta, the main high-pressure pipeline connected to the heart’s left ventricle. The aorta branches into a network of smaller arteries that extend throughout the body. The arteries’ smaller branches are called arterioles and capillaries. The pulmonary arteries carry oxygen-poor blood from the heart to the lungs under low pressure, making these arteries unique.
Conditions of the Arteries
- Atherosclerosis: The buildup of cholesterol (a waxy substance) into what are called plaques in the arteries’ walls. Atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart, brain, or neck can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
- Vasculitis (arteritis): Inflammation of the arteries, which may involve one or more arteries at the same time. Most vasculitis is caused by an overactive immune system.
- Amaurosis fugax: Loss of vision in one eye caused by a temporary loss of blood flow to the retina, the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. It usually occurs when a portion of a cholesterol plaque in one of the carotid arteries (the arteries on either side of the neck that supply blood to the brain) breaks off and travels to the retinal artery (the artery that supplies blood and nutrients to the retina.)
- Stenosis of the arteries: Narrowing of the arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. When stenosis occurs in arteries in the heart, neck, or legs, the limitations in blood flow can cause serious health problems.
- Peripheral artery disease: Atherosclerosis that causes narrowing of the arteries in the legs or groin. The limitation in blood flow to the legs may cause pain or poor wound healing.
- Arterial thrombosis: A sudden blood clot in one of the arteries, stopping blood flow. Immediate treatment is necessary to restore blood flow in the artery.
- Myocardial infarction (heart attack): A sudden blood clot in one of the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
- Cerebrovascular accident (stroke): A sudden blood clot in one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. Strokes may also occur when one of the arteries in the brain bursts, causing bleeding.
- Temporal arteritis: Inflammation of the temporal artery in the scalp. Pain in the jaw with chewing and pain over the scalp are common symptoms.
- Coronary artery disease: Atherosclerosis with narrowing of the arteries supplying blood to the heart muscle. Coronary artery disease makes a heart attack more likely.
- Carotid artery disease: Atherosclerosis with narrowing of one or both of the carotid arteries in the neck. Disease of the carotid arteries makes stroke more likely.
It’s extremely important to keep your arteries healthy. Getting into certain healthy habits isn’t just a good idea; your arteries absolutely need it. While many are still unaware, a large part of the cardiovascular problems we’re seeing so much of today is the result of artery damage from cholesterol and toxins.
The most worrying part is that living a sedentary lifestyle and eating poorly are the major triggers. Even if there aren’t obvious symptoms at first, later on, come the heart and circulatory system issues.
So before you develop a serious illness, learn how to change your lifestyle for the better. Below, we’d like to share 6 very important recommendations to follow if you want to keep your arteries healthy.
How to Keep Your Arteries Healthy
Limit your drinking and smoking
A small glass of red wine a day provides your body with powerful antioxidants that are actually helpful for your heart. But when you drink too much wine or other alcoholic drinks, it’s counterproductive.
And because of the toxic components in cigarettes, they damage your arteries. Smoking also lowers good cholesterol and increases your chances of developing hypercholesterolemia.
Don’t consume foods with cholesterol
Your body uses a small amount of cholesterol to perform certain processes. However, too much of it in your arteries is a contributing factor to many different heart diseases.
Your liver secretes a large part of the lipid, but you also get it by eating foods containing it. So if your goal is to keep your arteries healthy, avoid them.
Common sources of cholesterol:
- Red meat and offal
- Whole fat dairy products and butter
- Smoked meat, cold cuts, sausage, etc
- Fried food and potato chips
- Processed pastries and bread
Manage your stress
When your body is in continuous or prolonged stressful situations, certain chemical reactions take place. These reactions can lead to problems in your arteries. Your heart rate speeds up, your blood pressure shoots up too, and often your circulation is negatively affected.
Although mood imbalances aren’t directly responsible for poor artery health, they do have a negative effect on it. Therefore, relaxation and breathing exercises are essential; you need to learn to channel your stress.
Eat a balanced diet
Eating a balanced diet is good for your body in all kinds of ways. It does everything from keeping your arteries healthy to helping you maintain a healthy weight. Since it consists of a wide variety of nutritious foods, it’s the best way to lose weight and keep your cholesterol in line.
Now, we’re not talking about restrictive diets and cutting out whole food groups. Instead, we’re talking about “a little bit of everything” — but in the right amounts.
It does include limiting sugar and salt, though, because they will do the opposite of keeping your arteries healthy.
A balanced diet contains:
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meat and fish
Exercising regularly is one of the most highly recommended habits to get into if you want to keep your arteries healthy. An active body has good blood circulation and a healthy cardio-respiratory system.
That’s why any kind of physical activity is perfect for preventing and improving things like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and weight problems. In fact, with just 30 minutes a day, your risk of heart attack and stroke goes down.
Consume omega 3 fatty acids
Not all fat is bad for your arteries. For example, foods containing omega 3 fatty acids are very good for them.
This type of lipid increases good cholesterol (HDL) while helping remove bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides from your body.
Regular consumption, even via supplements, will lower your risk of arteriosclerosis, hypertension, and heart attack. In addition, omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory agent and thus is good for your circulatory system and brain.
You can find omega 3 in:
- Oily fish (sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring)
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
- Soy beans
To conclude, now is a good time to remind you that regular medical check-ups are also a must if you want to keep your arteries healthy. This way, you can catch illnesses even before symptoms appear.
Start taking care of yourself today!