Heart

Is it Possible to Reverse Hardening of the Arteries?

Steve Park MD , of the TriHealth Heart Institute , answers a Local 12 viewer question about hardening of the arteries and if it's possible to reverse it.

Hardening of the Arteries: What is It?

This condition, also known as atherosclerosis, is a common problem that occurs when fat, cholesterol and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques.

"It's primarily cholesterol plaque that can calcify," Dr. Park tells Local 12's Liz Bonis.

Is it Possible to Reverse Hardening of the Arteries?

While it's technically not possible to reverse hardening of the arteries, Dr. Park says preliminary research shows that a complete vegan diet might reverse heart disease. Because a strict vegan diet is difficult to stick with, he suggests coupling lower-fat, Mediterranean-style eating with a medication to keep plaque from continuing to build.

"There is some evidence that if you have high-dose statins, that there could be some regression of the plaque," he points out.

He also says the following lifestyle changes can help slow progression:

  • Losing weight 
  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising
  • Blood pressure testing
  • Diabetes control 

Genetics also plays a role in determining if we will develop hardening of the arteries, so if this condition runs in your family, and you haven't experienced symptoms (like shortness of breath), he says to talk to your doctor about early screening.

Tags Heart , Senior's Health

Last Updated: March 08, 2013