Clogged Artery

Hardening of arteries (Atherosclerosis/Arteriosclerosis)

Clogged Artery

By Fasiha Hasham

Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries entails a loss of elasticity in the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to all parts of the body.

Arteries throughout the body may be affected by hardening, resulting in symptoms from the diminished flow of blood to the area served by the affected vessels. For example, a hardening of arteries in the legs can cause pain and difficulty walking. Hardening of the coronary arteries, which encircle the heart and provide nourishment to the heart muscle, can cause chest pains and a heart attack. Narrowing or hardening of arteries to the brain can cause a stroke.

Blood vessels lose a certain amount of elasticity with aging. This process may be compounded by a buildup of fatty deposits in the blood vessel lining. This is referred to as atherosclerosis. These fatty deposits are made up mostly of cholesterol circulating in their blood have an increased incidence of atherosclerosis.

Exactly what initiate’s atherosclerosis is unknown, but the process is believed to begin early in life. Researchers think that a combination of genetic susceptibility, high cholesterol levels, and some sort of injury to the artery lining all are involved. Cigarette smoking can worsen the condition; some researchers think it may even be a cause.

Other diseases, especially high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, also contribute to artery hardening from atherosclerosis.

Symptoms related to Arteriosclerosis are

  • Angina, breathlessness, and other symptoms of coronary artery disease
  • Leg ulcers, tingling, pain and difficulty walking.
  • Memory loss and other signs of dementia
  • Diminished kidney function.

Diagnosis is established by studies of the circulation. This may require angiography, which are special x-rays taken of the blood vessels after a dye is injected into the circulation. Sometimes a catheter is also inserted a blood vessel to detect areas of narrowing; this procedure is referred to as contrast arterial catheterization.

Treatment depends upon the site and degree of hardening. Life- style changes can halt or slow the process in its early stages. Specific measures include stopping smoking, controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, losing excess weight and exercising regularly.

Medication to lower blood cholesterol may be prescribed if diet and other conservative measures are inadequate.

Low dose aspirin usually half an aspirin or one baby aspirin a day may be prescribed to help prevent clots from forming in arteries clogged by fatty plaque.

In severe cases, surgery or angioplasty may be needed. The surgery entails either bypassing the blocked area with a grafted blood vessel, usually one taken from elsewhere in the body, or opening the vessel and surgically removing the fatty plaque. Angioplasty entails inserting a catheter with a balloon tip into the artery. When the catheter reaches a site of obstruction, the balloon is inflated to flatten the plaque and widen the opening through which blood flows.


The risk of hardening of the arteries can be reduced by:

  • Achieving and then maintaining normal weight
  • Controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and other disorder that may contribute to buildup of fatty plaque
  • Consuming a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol and high in starches and fiber
  • Exercising for at least 15 to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a week
  • Not smoking

Hardening of the arteries is a long term, progressive process. Generally there are no symptoms until the hardening of the arteries is quite advanced. Even arteries that are 80 percent blocked can deliver adequate blood to maintain normal function.

The major danger occurs when a diseased blood vessel becomes completely blocked by a clot or fatty plaque. When this happen the blood supply is cut off and the tissue normally served by the blocked blood vessel dies. Depending upon the site involved, this can cause a heart attack, stroke or gangrene requiring amputation.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Fasiha Hasham obtained her medical degree from Sindh Medical College and completed a residency at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in Pakistan before moving to the United States. Her specialties include Internal Medicine and Gynecology and Obstetrics. She is married with four children and lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan. The views expressed here are her own.





Don’t Relax Your Islam

“O ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe see you from a position where ye cannot see them. We made the Satans friends (only to those without faith.” 7:27

One of the pitfalls of the glitz and glamour of the modern world is it has a very strong magnetic effect on the young (and sometimes not-so-young). Much of the TV, movies, and music we experience today have messages that downplay good healthy wholesome living.
Sometimes when I haven’t seen a person at the masjid in a long time, I will run into them at a festival, parade, ball game, golf course, or some other recreational outlet. And many times when I see them they will be with a non-Muslim companion and not dressed exactly as they were the last time I saw them at the mosque. This is much more common in the African-America community, because assimilation in the local culture is much easier than it is for immigrant Muslims.
Many of our young people, indigenous and immigrant, feel that Islam and living an Islamic life means you can’t have fun. They feel that Islam is too restrictive and prevents you from living a full life. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. And I’m not speaking from the perspective of an older person. I’m speaking from the perspective of the Qur’an.
ALLAH only forbids us those things that are harmful to ourselves and/or the society. A few examples of what I mean:
We are forbidden to eat pork and other unclean meats. This is self explanatory if you think about it. Pork is known to cause high blood pressure and clogged arteries, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It also harbors worms.
Adultery and fornication cause breakups in the family, which ultimately weaken the society. Alcohol and intoxicants cause warped and unstable thinking. Gambling leads to lying and theft after the inevitable losses you will incur.
These are a few of the prohibited things. There are many more activities that are permitted by ALLAH. You don’t need to stay away from the masjid to go to a movie. Just try to see decent movies. If your culture allows you to listen to music, make sure that the music you choose is not the rotgut, vulgar stuff put out by Shaitan.
As an imam and counselor, I get great many people seeking help for problems that can, for the most part, be solved by regular attendance and participation at the masjid. When you are around Muslims, your behavior automatically is going to be more Islamic. You will be encouraged to pay the zakat and attend Friday prayers. We need each other. Steel sharpens steel and man sharpens man.
On the other hand, we must be constantly aware of the presence and plan of Satan and know that “he can watch you while you are unaware.” When you are around non-Muslims, your behavior will likely be like those you are around. You will “relax” into an inferior culture, which will bring you down to a lower level.
Be Muslim ALL the time. Your life will be less stressful, more peaceful, and a greater asset to the community………And your Lord will be pleased with you.