5 signs your arteries are “covered in cholesterol and fat” – Eat This Not That

Atherosclerosis is a serious disease in which plaque of cholesterol and fat builds up in and around the walls of the arteries. “We generally think that HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, cholesterol is somewhat protective for our heart and blood vessels because it absorbs cholesterol and brings it back to the liver,” says Kate Kirley, MD. “We tend to think of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol as the main type of cholesterol we focus on as cholesterol that is potentially harmful to our heart because it builds up in the walls of your blood vessels.” Here are five signs that your arteries aren’t healthy, according to experts. Read on and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure signs you’ve already had COVID.


Indigestion could be a sign of blocked arteries. “Indigestion, or the feeling of a burning sensation in your chest, can often be confused with a symptom of acid reflux or a digestive problem,” says cardiothoracic surgeon Stephen L. Noble, MD. “However, this feeling can often be a sign of heart disease or a heart attack in women. Heartburn often occurs after a meal and can be relieved with antacids. If the feeling persists after taking of antacid medications, this can be symptomatic of a heart attack, especially in women. One theory for such pain is related to insufficient blood flow due to atherosclerosis, which forces the heart to work very hard for that he eats.

Athlete man having chest pain due to heart disease.

Chest pain is a common sign of high cholesterol, doctors warn. “Artery blockages are not created equal. Treating a 97% blocked artery is much easier than treating an artery that has been 100% blocked for a long time,” says Dharam Kumbhani, MD. “The symptoms – chest pain, tightness and shortness of breath – can however be similar. Sometimes when the arteries are completely blocked, a new blood supply develops around the blockage. This new blood supply, called collaterals, does not deliver as much blood to your heart.This can lead to the same symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath.

tired working woman

People with blocked arteries often experience severe fatigue. “People can experience fatigue from heart failure induced by clogged arteries,” says Dr. Noble. “Along with labored breathing, this is yet another major symptom of heart disease in women. If the heart is unable to get enough oxygen to perform its function, the heart will start working harder. This workload additional strain on the heart can lead to excessive fatigue.”

doctor taking patient's blood pressure with analog device
Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

“High cholesterol and high blood pressure tend to go hand in hand,” said Dr. Kirley. “One doesn’t necessarily cause the other, but it’s very common to see both in an individual. And certainly both contribute to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Interventions to help – things like more physical activity and nutrition — can impact both your blood pressure and your cholesterol levels.”

Sad man sitting on a bed, girlfriend in the background.

ED could be a sign of blocked arteries, doctors say. “Erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of coronary heart disease in men,” says Dr. Noble. “Just as the process of atherosclerosis has previously been described as occurring in the small arteries that supply the heart, this process can occur in the small arteries of the penis. Normal erectile function is supported by healthy blood flow in and out of the penis. When the blood flow in the penis is compromised, it leads to erectile dysfunction.”

Mast Ferozan

Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer passionate about making science and research-based information accessible to the general public. Learn more about Ferozan

5 signs your arteries are “covered in cholesterol and fat” – Eat This Not That

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