Cardiologist Joel K. Kahn, MD, reveals the unexpected symptoms of clogged arteries and underlying heart disease you should know about for your heart health.
How common are clogged arteries?
Each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 735,000 people have a heart attack and 610,000 people die of coronary heart disease (CHD). That’s one in four deaths. Preventing heart disease in patients is a physician’s main goal, but early detection is the next best thing. This can lead to changes in lifestyle and medical therapies that can delay or deny the onset of a heart attack; almost 80 percent of heart disease is preventable with lifestyle changes. Many of my patients are shocked to learn about the following unexpected symptoms of clogged arteries and heart disease.
Erectile dysfunction (ED)
Men have a built-in warning system for silent CHD. When achieving an erection is difficult or impossible, it can be one of the symptoms of clogged arteries in the pelvis that presents before a heart attack hits. There are, on average, three to five years between the onset of erectile dysfunction (ED) and the finding of CHD, which is plenty of time to detect and work on preventing heart issues. If you and your partner are worried about sε∝ual performance, it’s smart to look for and treat the root causes of diseased arteries before automatically turning to a blue pill for ED.
Calf pain when you walk
This is known as claudication (from the Latin for “to limp”). Atherosclerosis can block leg arteries, particularly in smokers, before CHD is diagnosed. This symptom requires an evaluation without delay. Your doctor will examine the pulses in your legs and perform simple measurements of leg blood pressure and blood flow to confirm a diagnosis of poor circulation. It is crucial that heart disease be diagnosed as early as possible because there are many dietary and medical treatments that can help reverse the problem. I advise my patients to eat more plant-based foods and fewer animal products and to start a walking program.
Their calf pain completely resolved within weeks and has not recurred for years. Anyone with any of the above signs of silent CHD should know his or her numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, and fasting glucose). Ask your doctor if you should be checked for heart disease with electrocardiography, or EKG, a coronary calcium CT imaging, or exercise stress testing.