Diseases that affect the arteries can lead to heart disease, stroke and blood clots. Vascular or blood vessel health is also important in preventing restricted blood flow to the brain and body that can cause dementia, poor memory and wound healing. Certain prescription drugs and herbal supplements can help to dissolve arterial plaque, thin the blood and decrease blood cholesterol levels to improve vital blood circulation in the arteries. Consult your doctor before taking any prescription or herbal medication.
Atherosclerosis is a disease in which the arteries become hardened, narrowed and lose elasticity. This occurs due to the accumulation of fatty plaques on the inner lumen of the blood vessels. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute explains that plaque is composed of fat, calcium, cholesterol and other substances that can build-up in the arteries over time increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, stenosis and blood clots. These vascular disorders can restrict or stop blood flow. If this occurs in the coronary arteries that feed the cardiac muscles, it causes heart disease and if it occurs in the carotid arteries in the neck, a stroke can occur.
Plavix is the commercial name for the prescription drug clopidogrel, which is anti-coagulant medication to prevent unhealthy blood clotting in the arteries. Drugs.com notes that this medication affects the platelet cells, the primary clotting factors in your blood from clumping or sticking together to form clots. Plavix is commonly prescribed after a heart attack or stroke to prevent further occurrence and after an angioplasty or stent is placed to open an artery, to inhibit plaque from reforming.
Lipitor is a commonly prescribed drug for the treatment of high cholesterol. This medicine belongs to a family of drugs called statins and is used to reduce elevated levels of total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, which can accumulate in the arteries. Reducing levels of this unhealthy cholesterol from the blood, prevents it from building up in the arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease, angina or chest pain, atherosclerosis, blood clots and stroke.
MayoClinic.com reports that several non-prescription supplements can help to reduce high cholesterol levels, clear the arteries of plaque build-up and act as blood-thinners to treat cardiovascular diseases. These include beta-sitosterol, a plant-based fat that helps to reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and arteries. Fish or cod liver oil is also a popular health supplement that is used to reduce triglyceride cholesterol levels in the body. Garlic extract supplements have blood-thinning properties and can also reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels helping to clear the arteries of plaque build-up.
Herbal and nutritional supplements, however, are potent medications that can adversely interact with other herbal and prescription medications or cause side effects. For example, garlic and fish oil can cause excessive and potentially life-threatening blood thinning if taken with Plavix or over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen.