Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, sometimes called “hardening of the arteries,” occurs when fat (cholesterol) and calcium build up in the wall of the arteries, forming a substance called plaque. Over time, the fat and calcium buildup may narrow the artery and reduce blood flow through it. When atherosclerosis affects the coronary…

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries," occurs when fat (cholesterol) and calcium build up in the wall of the arteries, forming a substance called plaque. Over time, the fat and calcium buildup may narrow the artery and reduce blood flow through it.

  • When atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, it can restrict blood flow to the heart muscle. This is called coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack.
  • When atherosclerosis affects the arteries that supply blood to the brain, it may cause a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.
  • Atherosclerosis can affect arteries in other parts of the body, such as the pelvis and legs, causing poor circulation, slower healing of skin injuries, and erection problems.

A major part of treating atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease involves lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking) and medicines to help reduce high cholesterol, control high blood pressure, and manage other things that increase a person's risk of heart attack, stroke, and other complications.

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Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, sometimes called “hardening of the arteries,” occurs when cholesterol, calcium, and other substances build up in the inner lining of the arteries, forming a material called plaque. Over time, plaque buildup may narrow the artery and limit blood flow through it. Coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis…

Atherosclerosis

Normal artery and blood flow and an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries," occurs when cholesterol, calcium, and other substances build up in the inner lining of the arteries, forming a material called plaque. Over time, plaque buildup may narrow the artery and limit blood flow through it.

Coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis in the heart (coronary) arteries. Peripheral arterial disease of the legs is atherosclerosis in the leg arteries. If atherosclerosis affects the brain arteries (carotid or cerebral arteries), a stroke can occur.

Current as ofApril 9, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.