Atherosclerosis

Prevention and treatment can drastically reduce risk for heart disease.

Martha Gulati, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief
Learn more about Atherosclerosis

Think of a garden hose. It’s fairly flexible and, if it’s clear of dirt and debris, the water passes through fairly easily. But what happens if gunk or thick paste starts sticking to the inside of the hose? It would make it difficult for the once free-flowing water to move.

This is somewhat similar to what happens when the arteries in our bodies narrow or become hardened. This hardening and narrowing of the arteries—called atherosclerosis—makes it harder for blood to flow through them. 

Atherosclerosis is fairly common, especially as we age. It happens when fat and cholesterol in the blood form plaque which can build up inside the artery walls. If this plaque begins to block the arteries, it can slow and limit the flow of blood to your organs. When this happens it can cause serious problems in blood vessels throughout the body, including heart attack, stroke, peripheral arterial disease and kidney disease.

Many people don’t know they have atherosclerosis until it starts causing health problems. That’s why it’s so important for you to make healthy choices every day and get regular cholesterol screenings. Doing so can help you prevent problems down the line.

Use this condition center to learn more about atherosclerosis, create a list of questions to ask your health care provider and get practical tips.

Atherosclerosis News & Events

Physical distancing

Physical Distancing Helps Prevent Spread Of COVID-19, Study Finds

Jun 22, 2020
Face coverings and masks also help protect against the new coronavirus.
COVID-19 symptoms

Coronavirus and Your Heart

May 25, 2020

This video explains the main symptoms of COVID-19 and how the new coronavirus might make existing heart conditions worse.

Extra Tax on Sugary Drinks Cuts Consumer Purchases by 21%

May 19, 2020
One county’s short-term soda tax resulted in a dramatic drop in sugar-sweetened beverage sales.
COVID-19: When to Call 911

COVID-19: When to Call 911

May 08, 2020

Many people around the world are concerned about the new coronavirus. While it is important to protect yourself from infection, heart attacks and strokes do not stop during a pandemic.

videos

COVID-19: Call 911 for Heart Attack or Stroke Symptoms

Apr 23, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still important to call 911 if you or someone you know is experiencing warning signs of a heart attack or stroke.

webinar

Coronavirus and People With Heart Conditions: What You Need to Know | Webinar

Apr 06, 2020

In this Mended Hearts webinar, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief Martha Gulati offers advice on what you can do to protect your heart during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

More Research Needed to Understand Role of Statins in COVID-19

Mar 27, 2020

If you are taking a statin for an underlying heart condition or to lower your chance of developing heart disease, continue to do so unless directed otherwise by your health care professional.

Coronavirus

Heart Patients Warned of Risks from Coronavirus

Mar 13, 2020

People with heart disease seem to be at higher risk of developing serious illness from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Eating Meat Linked to Slightly Higher Risk of Heart Disease

Feb 13, 2020
Fish seems to be heart healthier choice of protein, study suggests.
Glass of milk

Skip Milk? Opinions Vary on Its Benefits

Feb 12, 2020
The dietary guideline urging most Americans to drink three glasses of milk a day isn’t justified, according to authors of a review article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Marijuana

Highlighting the Concerns of Marijuana's Effects on the Heart

Feb 07, 2020
Marijuana use is associated with cardiovascular problems and can interfere with common heart medications, according to a review article.

More Research Needed to Achieve Health Equity in Preventive Care

Jan 26, 2020

Experts identify gaps in knowledge about how to put proven services into practice.

Study Supports Treatment of Lipoprotein(a) to Reduce Heart Risks

Jan 07, 2020
Study confirms link between lipoprotein(a) and heart disease, highlighting benefits of treatment.

Top CardioSmart News Articles of 2019

Dec 18, 2019

This year's most-read patient stories worth a second look.

Medications Boost Survival After Open Heart Surgery

Nov 14, 2019
Study confirms benefits of blood pressure, cholesterol and anti-clotting medications after open heart surgery. 

A Look at Long-Term Health Effects of Weight Loss

Oct 21, 2019

Maintaining weight loss is key in reducing major risk factors for heart disease.

Lowering Triglycerides to Reduce Heart Risks

Oct 07, 2019

Study confirms cardiovascular benefits of lowering triglycerides with therapies including an omega-3 fatty acid.

Questioning the Long-Term Safety of the High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet

Oct 07, 2019
A review of 10 studies finds a link between mortality risk and diets highest in protein and fat. 

Staying Young at Heart: It's Never Too Early to Start Healthy Habits

Oct 03, 2019

Expert recommendations help healthy individuals prevent heart disease.

Diet Soda and Sugary Drinks May Affect Lifespan, Study Finds

Sep 29, 2019
Two or more sodas a day shown to increase risk of death in nearly half a million Europeans.

Consumption of Plant-Based Proteins Could Add Years to Your Life

Sep 17, 2019

Study suggests that we eat plenty of plant-based foods, while limiting red and processed meat.

Not All Plant-Based Foods are Created Equal

Sep 13, 2019
Just because a food is vegetarian does not mean it promotes health and longevity. 

Strict Insurance Policies Reduce Access to Life-Saving Cholesterol Drugs

Aug 16, 2019

Most patients never get the PCSK9 inhibitors they’re prescribed, putting them at increased risk for heart events.

Three Prevention Efforts Could Save 94 Million Lives Over 25 Years

Jul 11, 2019

Global analysis shows that improving blood pressure and diet could save millions of lives over the next few decades.

Healthy Arteries are Linked to Better Heart Function in Middle Age

Jul 11, 2019

Developing heart-healthy habits as a young adult helps keep your heart strong in middle age.