The Hidden Signs of Clogged Arteries You Need to Know if You’re Over 50

You know having a healthy heart and brain is important for living a long life. And the health of those organs all begins with your arteries. WebMD explains blood flows easily through the body in someone with healthy arteries — but in someone with clogged ones, this isn’t the case. Arterial plaque can cause blood to flow slowly, or it can block it altogether.

How do you know if your arteries are secretly starting to clog? The symptoms aren’t as obvious as you think. Here are the ones to watch, including the most unexpected sign on page 9 you should look for immediately.

1. Lower back pain

lower back pain

Man with back pain | globalmoments/iStock/Getty Images

You may associate your discomfort with a bad mattress, but you should pay close attention if that pain is coming from your low back. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine notes lower back pain is often due to less blood getting to that area of your body, causing the disks between your vertebrae to ache. And a reduced amount of blood flow is often from clogged arteries.

Before you ignore your pain, make sure you take note of any other symptoms you may have as well.

Next: This startling symptom is a sign your arteries are severely clogged. 

2. Heart palpitations

Middle-aged businessman suffering chest pains

Heart pain | iStock.com/mheim3011

You may expect heart palpitations to feel like an intense beating, but that’s not always the case. Harvard Health Publishing notes palpitations can feel like fluttering or murmuring instead of pounding. In any case, if you feel an uneasiness in your chest, it’s usually a sign that something in your body is seriously wrong. And WebMD notes it’s often a symptom of clogged arteries, which eventually can lead to a heart attack.

Next: Take note if you’re feeling this, especially if you exercise regularly. 

3. Shortness of breath

Woman having trouble in breathing

Woman out of breath | iStock.com/OcusFocus

Being short of breath is never a comfortable feeling — and you may be even more alarmed if you exercise regularly and you’re still feeling winded after a journey up a flight of stairs. Health explains a heaviness in your chest that affects your ability to breathe can mean there’s a problem with your arteries.

If you’re doing plenty of cardio exercises and you’re noticing the symptoms never get better, check with your doctor about what you can do. Even if your arteries are fine, you could have dangerous fluid buildup in your heart.

Next: You wouldn’t expect this symptom in your lower body. 

4. Pain in the calves, hips, or thighs

calf raises

Man’s calves at the gym | iStock.com

It’s natural for your joints to ache a bit more as you age. But if you’re noticing a gradual increase in leg pain, particularly in the hips, calves, or thighs when you walk, take note. Health explains you could have peripheral arterial disease, which occurs when there’s a buildup of fatty plaque in your leg arteries.

Your legs may be far from your heart, but those arteries still matter. Dr. Michael Miller tells the publication if you have this type of disease, you have a 50% chance of also having a blockage in a heart artery.

Next: Need new glasses? This could be a sign.

5. Blurred vision or loss of vision on one side

Blurred vision

Things may get blurry | Svetlanais Getty Images

Not only are blocked arteries bad for your heart, but they can also ruin your brain. WebMD reminds us clogged arteries can cause a stroke. And while you’re probably familiar with classic stroke symptoms, a clog can also give you a “mini-stroke,” which is a warning for worse things to come.

During a mini-stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack, you may lose your vision on just one side or experience issues with your eyes you didn’t have previously.

Next: This embarrassing issue could be from clogged arteries.  

6. Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction

Man who is frustrated | dolgachov/getty Images

You may be embarrassed by this issue, but it’s more common than you think. Not only that, but erectile dysfunction can be a sign your arteries are in deep trouble. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explains clogged arteries can reduce blood flow to your genitals, which can induce this issue.

You should request a screening for heart disease if you have erectile dysfunction. A recent study found if more men with ED checked their hearts, millions of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented over the next 20 years.

Next: It could be hot flashes, but it also could be an arterial issue.

7. Sweating

Businessman sweating in his office

Man sweating | Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images

Feeling sweaty, even if the air is cool? Sudden hot flashes and episodes of sweating could be a sign of clogged arteries. Healthline notes sweating is often accompanied by other uncomfortable chest symptoms, like pain and heart palpitations, when it’s your arteries that are the issue.

Pay particular attention if you start to feel faint while you’re sweating, too. That’s a sign your body is working in overdrive to pump enough blood.

Next: If you need an extra pair of socks all the time, pay attention. 

8. Cold feet

Cold feet

Footprints | eugenesergeev/Getty Images

Suddenly in need of a new pair of slippers? This nuisance may be a signal your body is in serious trouble. Cleveland Clinic reports peripheral artery disease, the same condition that can give you pain in your extremities, can also make your feet cold.

If you notice discomfort in your legs and a chill in your feet, ask your physician to check for pulses in your feet. A worsening of this condition can ultimately lead to a loss of the limb, so you want to get this addressed ASAP.

Next: This is the weirdest sign yet, but you should look in the mirror for it. 

9. A crease in your ear

crease in your ear

A man’s ear | AndreyPopov/Getty images

Take a look in the mirror to see if you have this bizarre symptom. Reader’s Digest explains if you have a crease in your earlobe that goes diagonally from your ear canal to the bottom edge of your lobe, that could mean trouble. An ear crease in this area can signify poor circulation, which can also mean your arteries are clogged.

Some medical professionals believe this ear crease is just a sign of aging in some, however, so you shouldn’t freak out if you have it. With that said, you should be wary something may be amiss if it’s prominent.

Next: This may seem obvious, but you need to take note. 

10. Chest pain

Sick woman with heart attack,

Woman with chest pain | SIphotography/iStock/Getty Images

Pain in your chest is never something to ignore — but it’s not always from the same condition, either. Bel Marra Health explains you may think your chest pain is the sign of an oncoming heart attack. In reality, it may not be that severe just yet. It could mean you’re feeling tightness, heaviness, or pressure from reduced blood flow instead. Clogged arteries can ultimately cause a heart attack or stroke in the long run, however, so take your pain seriously.

Next: A spinning spell may go away suddenly, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. 

11. Dizziness

Passenger traveling and feeling dizzy w

Woman who’s dizzy | iStock.com/ AntonioGuillem

No one likes the sensation of dizziness. And while it’s often from dehydration, overexertion, or perhaps a night of too much alcohol, it can also be a sign of something far more serious. Bel Marra Health explains feeling weak or lightheaded are common signs of clogged arteries or even stroke. If your dizziness is accompanied by a loss of balance and frequent falling, then plaque buildup could be to blame.

Next: This is another odd symptom you need to know about. 

12. Hair loss and baldness

Hair loss

Man losing his hair | Manuel-F-O/Getty Images

Finding more hair in your shower drain than usual? Research suggests hair loss, particularly male-pattern baldness, strongly predicts clogged arteries and heart disease, Reader’s Digest reports. And one study involving over 7,000 men and women found those who experienced moderate to severe baldness had a doubled risk of dying from heart disease regardless of gender.

Baldness, particularly for men, may run in your family, of course. But still, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor about it — especially if you have any other symptoms.

Next: Your headaches may be telling you more than you think. 

13. Migraines

Woman suffering from migraine and hands on her forehead

Migraine | iStock.com/absolutimages

Migraines are awful on their own, but they can be a signal that something else is seriously wrong inside of your body. Health explains 40% of patients with cardiovascular disease experience severe headaches, and migraines with auras are linked to dysfunction with the heart. This, of course, also likely means reoccurring migraines could signal issues with your arteries.

Not every headache is cause for concern, of course. But getting them severely and frequently is something you should watch.

Next: If you’re feeling down, your arteries could be to blame. 

14. Depression

Young sad mad sitting by the window

Man feeling sad | Marjan_Apostolovic/iStock/Getty Images

You may have never guessed that depression goes hand-in-hand with clogged arteries. The Heart Foundation reports depression and anxiety can put you at serious risk for all kinds of heart and artery problems. Not only that, but it can also affect healing time and is a huge risk factor for developing organ issues later in life.

If you’re having mental health troubles, it’s important for both your mind and your body to get them addressed.

Next: This symptom often goes along with the dizziness. 

15. Nausea

Man in a tank top

Man with stomach pain | iStock.com/Deeepblue

It may be food poisoning — or it could be something much worse. Just like dizziness, migraines, and depression, you can develop these health issues for a number of reasons. But keep in mind nausea is a very common sign of a blocked artery, especially if you’re experiencing this symptom with chest pain or shortness of breath. Gastrointestinal pain and vomiting are also commonly associated with arterial issues, Livestrong.com says, so keep that in mind.

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