People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop coronary artery disease, because high blood pressure puts added force against the artery walls. Over time, this extra pressure can damage the arteries, making them more vulnerable to the narrowing and plaque buildup associated with atherosclerosis. The narrowed artery limits or blocks the flow of blood to the heart muscle, depriving the heart of oxygen.
Your efforts around exercising and eating well are helping your blood pressure and your weight. Something else might also help: meditation.
Meditation -- the practice of focusing your attention in order to find calm and clarity -- can lower high blood pressure. It can also help you manage stress, which drives some people to eat.
"People often put on weight from trying to comfort themselves with food," says Adam Perlman, MD, executive director of Duke Integrative Medicine.
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When the process is advanced enough, patients can experience angina, or chest pain, when they exert themselves. The hardened surface of the artery can also encourage the formation of small blood clots, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
What Are the Symptoms of Atherosclerosis?
Atherosclerosis usually has no symptoms until the narrowed coronary arteries severely restrict blood flow to the heart. At this point, you may feel chest pain because not enough blood is reaching your heart, especially while you are exerting yourself or are under stress.
What Is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack is permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by a sudden loss of blood flow to the heart muscle. A heart attack occurs when a clot or spasm blocks an already narrowed coronary artery so that blood flow is severely reduced or completely interrupted. Left without oxygen, the portion of the heart muscle served by the blocked artery is injured.