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

Latest Statistics Say Nearly Half of Americans Have Some Form of Heart Disease

Feb 19, 2019
An annual report from the American Heart Association explains the rise in heart disease rates and emphasizes prevention.

Experts Highlight the Strong Link Between Depression and Heart Disease

Feb 19, 2019
Given high rates of depression among heart patients, experts encourage better screening and treatment for mental health.

Experts Address Safety of Heart Medications During Pregnancy

Feb 04, 2019
The use of heart medications takes careful consideration between women and their providers, explain experts.

Study Supports Enhanced Screening Prior to Invasive Heart Disease Imaging

Jan 10, 2019

Better screening could reduce unnecessary tests and procedures in patients being evaluated for heart disease, study finds.

The Importance of Promoting Heart Health in Early Childhood

Jan 02, 2019
Experts encourage early adoption of healthy habits to reduce cardiovascular risk later in life.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk for Heart Events in Women

Dec 19, 2018
Study finds that the Mediterranean diet reduces cardiovascular risk by minimizing inflammation, controlling blood sugar and promoting a healthy weight.

Study Supports BMI as a Screening Tool for Heart Health

Dec 19, 2018

The simple ratio of height to weight can identify young adults with increased health risks.

Women with Heart Disease Report Worse Treatment and Patient Satisfaction Than Men

Dec 19, 2018

Women are less likely to be taking preventive medicines and seek care at the ER more frequently.

Top CardioSmart News Articles of 2018

Dec 13, 2018

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

Two Daily Servings of Dairy Helps Reduce Risk for Heart Disease

Oct 03, 2018
Global study finds that consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt helps reduce cardiovascular risk, regardless of fat content.

Optimism and Happiness Aid in Heart Disease Prevention

Sep 20, 2018

Health promotion series highlights the importance of positive thinking for improving heart health.

Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Helps Prevent Dementia

Aug 27, 2018

French study finds that seven factors related to heart health could reduce risk for dementia and cognitive decline.

Mammograms Could Help Screen For Heart Disease

Aug 19, 2018
Calcification in the breasts and low bone density may identify women at increased risk for heart disease, study finds.

Children Should Avoid Diet Drinks, Advise Experts

Aug 15, 2018

Experts can’t say with certainty that artificially sweetened drinks are safe, based on a recent advisory from the American Heart Association.

Multivitamins Don't Protect Against Heart Disease, Study Shows

Aug 08, 2018

A review of 18 studies concludes that multivitamins have no cardiovascular benefits. 


The Bottom Line on Added Sugars, Energy Drinks and Other Controversial Foods

Jul 23, 2018

The American College of Cardiology's prevention council issues an updated guide on controversial foods to help define a heart-healthy diet.

Study Confirms the Heart-Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

Jul 13, 2018
A second analysis reconfirms the results of a Spanish study demonstrating that a Mediterranean diet including olive oil and nuts can reduce heart risks. 

Health Literacy is Critical to Heart Disease Prevention

Jun 29, 2018
An American Heart Association statement addresses health literacy as a barrier to heart health. 

Loneliness is Bad for the Heart

Jun 29, 2018
A lack of social support is linked to poorer health outcomes in heart patients.

No Such Thing as Healthy Obesity

Jun 14, 2018
Both weight and metabolic health are key to preventing heart disease. 

South Asians Face Increased Risk for Heart Disease

Jun 14, 2018

Experts issue a statement focusing on the prevention and treatment of risk factors for heart disease for South Asians in the United States.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Seafood Help Prevent Heart Disease

Jun 13, 2018
The American Heart Association recommends 1–2 servings of fish per week to help prevent heart disease. 

OB/GYNs are Critical to Helping Fight Heart Disease in Women

Jun 12, 2018

Experts ask obstetricians and gynecologists to help educate their patients about heart disease.

Calculations of Cardiovascular Risk are Outdated, Study Finds

Jun 12, 2018

New Zealand study finds current tools greatly overestimate 5–year risk of developing heart disease.

Advances in an Alternative Procedure to Open Heart Surgery

Jun 07, 2018

Recent medical statement highlights the evolution of percutaneous coronary intervention and for which heart patients it is most appropriate.