When we think about “clogged arteries” it’s easy to think of a drain or some other type of plumbing not working correctly.

Your friend or family member jokes about unhealthy foods — pizza, donuts, bacon, etc. — being “artery-cloggers”. Your friend talks you out of an order of French fries by threatening “clogged arteries”.

And this thinking isn’t faulty. In fact, it could be argued that your arteries are THE most important plumbing in your life!

However, it’s easy to laugh off the seriousness of clogged arteries when we talk about them in such a laid-back way.

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In reality, the “clogged arteries” we joke about have become dangerous issues in current American health, and they should definitely be taken more seriously.

Unlike the drain of your bathroom sink, a bottle of Drano will not magically unclog and fix all problems that accompany clogged arteries.

This is because plaque—the fatty debris substance that build up in artery walls—thrives off an unhealthy lifestyle and is often there to stay.

Because of this, un-clogging your arteries will take changes in your lifestyle instead of a magic pill or potion. It requires living a healthier, more active lifestyle. Reversing clogged arteries should be considered a process and with the right changes, you can improve the health of your arteries.

Clogged arteries often result in poor circulation and high blood pressure, which in turn lead to more serious cardiovascular diseases, that can lead to death.

If you’re still thinking of it in terms of plumbing, this illustration may help:

Your arteries, veins, and capillaries are all one big hose or sprinkler system responsible for watering a large garden. The water is your blood, the garden is your body.

When the hose gets clogged, water flow either slows down or stops completely.

The same can be said for blood trying to flow through tightened or clogged arteries. Like a garden that doesn’t get enough water, your body doesn’t get enough nutrients or oxygen to function. Eventually, it will die.

MORE: When high blood pressure is a concern, L-Arginine Plus can help.

What Causes Clogged Arteries?

Clogged arteries aren’t composed of only plaque and fatty deposits.

In general, the most damage is done when deposits of plaque and fat tear and damage the inner lining of the artery, forming a blood clot that leads to even more blockage and increases the potential of a rupture.

This debris comes from unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, or eating habits that lead to excess fat circulating in the blood stream.

When the artery wall is damaged, the damage creates ideal spots for all this debris to “park” and sit. The more it piles up, the greater the possibility your arteries will get damaged — this can ultimately lead to a blood clot and a serious blockage.

What Happens to Your Health When Your Arteries are Clogged?

Like we said before, a blockage in a life source (water to a garden, blood to your heart) is always a serious concern, and a quick way to ensure more significant heart problems to come.

Build up of plaque in arteries leads to increased blood pressure, a silent issue which doesn’t typically manifest itself until severe situations such as heart attack, stroke, or cardiovascular disease occur.

Read More Signs You May Have Clogged Arteries

How Do I Get My Arteries Unclogged?

The best medicine for clogged arteries is prevention. Attacking the problem before it even starts is the best way to ensure your long-term health. Prevention involves:

  • Avoid Smoking and Second-Hand Smoke/li>
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption
  • Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
  • Limit High-Fat, High-Sugar Foods and Beverages
  • Get Regular (Daily) Exercise
  • Monitor Your Blood Pressure

What If My Arteries Are Already Damaged or Blocked?

If your doctor has determined you have a certain amount of artery blockage, he will likely put you on blood pressure medications and a strict diet/exercise regimen.

Again, this is where the DASH diet comes in handy.

Issues such as high blood pressure and poor circulation are side effects of artery blockage that most people seek relief for. Getting help includes making changes to your diet and activity level. Without adequate exercise and a healthy, balanced diet, you reduce the likelihood of being able to reverse the problems associated with clogged arteries.

Nitric oxide boosters, such as l-arginine and l-citrulline, will help improve your blood flow and can be included in your efforts to improve your lifestyle.