Once you have established cholesterol plague in your cardiovascular system, it can be difficult to get rid of. The best case scenario is that the plaque stops growing or grows out of the path of your bloodstream. The worst case is that the plaque suddenly ruptures, causing heart attack or stroke.
There are different causes for plaque buildup. Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, stress, not eating enough plant-based foods, and excessive alcohol consumption are all culprits. If you don’t have plaque buildup already, not doing the above list of things is a great way to never have to deal with it.
But if your doctor says you’ve got it, this is what you can do to live with it and maybe get rid of it.
1. If you smoke, quit.
Smoking not only increases the chance of greater plaque buildup, it can exacerbate diseases of the cardiovascular system and make you more likely to die of heart attack or stroke.
2. Eat a healthy diet.
Poor diet is one of the greatest culprits, so by simply not eating junk and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you reduce the risk of ever having any complications from the plaque. You may even reverse it.
3. Exercise frequently.
Every day, spend at least 20 minutes in motion. Go for a walk or a run. Ride your bike or take a swim. Go for a hike. Do something that gets the blood flowing. A little weight lifting definitely wouldn’t hurt either.
4. Take drugs to lower cholesterol levels.
If you’re concerned about your chance of survival, you can use drugs, though we generally consider this one of the last resorts. Statins, fibrates, niacin, and bile acid sequestrants can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
5. Last ditch resorts.
Procedures can be done to unclog your arteries or allow a different path for blood to flow past them. Angioplasty, angiography, and steniting are three possible procedures to open blocked arteries. Bypass surgery, where doctors harvest a healthy blood vessel from the chest or legs and replace the clogged artery, is also an option
These procedures come with some serious risk for complications and should be saved for situations where cholesterol plaques has lead to atherosclerosis.