Excess calcium buildup in coronary artery can even cause heart attack

You can avoid calcium deposits in your coronary arteries with a preventive lifestyle. Here’s all you need to know about it.
Covid-19 and heart
Covid-19 has had an impact on people's heart health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr (Col) Subroto Kumar Datta Published: 9 Dec 2021, 08:25 am IST
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According to a recent study, specks of calcium on coronary arteries might be early warning signs for impending heart disease. The calcification of coronary arteries is also a major risk factor for adverse outcomes, especially in people with a family history of coronary artery disease. There is a need to raise awareness on leading a preventive lifestyle and getting diagnosed in a timely manner. 

Coronary artery calcification refers to the build-up of calcium within the walls of the arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart. This leads to hardening of the walls as is seen in case of people with atherosclerosis. Over time, it can also cause the inside of the coronary artery to narrow thereby limiting the flow of blood to the heart muscle.

Keep your heart health happy with a good diet and careful lifestyle choices. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How does calcification of arteries affect the body?

The calcification of coronary arteries increases with age and is more common in men. Some other risk factors that predispose a person to this condition include tobacco consumption, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease, etc. When fats, cholesterol, calcium and other substances build-up in the blood over time, they can lead to complications. 

If not managed in a timely manner, the plaque may also burst and trigger a blood clot leading to a heart attack. Thus, there is a need to ensure that we take precautions from a young age and get health check-ups done regularly to detect any abnormalities at an early stage.

The symptoms of excessive calcium deposits in the coronary artery include pain in the chest, shortness of breath, or a slow or rapid heartbeat. In case, the blockage occurs in the artery supplying blood to the brain, the signs include dizziness, slurred speech, memory loss, weakness in hands and legs, etc. 

For those with deposits in peripheral arteries of the legs and arms, etc. The symptoms range from numbness in the legs, tingling sensation or muscle spasm. 

What are some treatment options for excess calcium in coronary arteries?

Angioplasty is a minimally invasive treatment option that may be recommended for restoration of and improvement in blood flow in blocked arteries due to atherosclerosis. In this process, the interventional cardiologist inserts a long, thin tube (catheter) till it reaches the narrowed part of the artery supplying blood to the heart. A thin wire mesh (stent) mounted on a deflated balloon is then passed through this catheter to the narrowed area or the lesion.

There are drug-coated stents, which are well studied and approved by the USFDA and safe even in patients with other complications like diabetes, high bleeding risks, etc.

Quit smoking, and live healthy. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to prevent complications

  • Quit smoking to prevent further damage to the internal lining of arteries. This will also help avoid complications;
  • Consume a balanced diet that has all the essential nutrients. Add foods containing vitamin K to prevent calcium build-up. This includes vegetables such as broccoli; 
  • Exercise regularly. This will decrease the buildup of calcium and cholesterol. This is because physical activity burns body fat, thereby not allowing it to stay in the blood for long;
  • Reduce sodium intake. This will help reduce high blood pressure. The latter is responsible for damaging the arterial wall and making it weak and susceptible to calcium deposition.

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About the Author

Dr (Col) Subroto Kumar Datta, Senior Consultant and HOD, Interventional Cardiology, Venkateshwar Hospital, Dwarka ...Read More

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