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

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.

Living Near Fast Food is Associated with Greater Risk for Heart Disease

May 15, 2018

Dutch study links easy access to fast food and increased risk for heart disease.

Experts Encourage Routine Screening for Physical Inactivity

May 10, 2018
Making the case that health care providers should ask patients about activity levels to identify those at risk for heart disease.

Understanding the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Obesity

May 03, 2018

Some of the health effects of childhood obesity are reversible with early weight loss, study finds.

Vegetables Promote Healthier Arteries in Older Women

May 01, 2018
Cruciferous vegetables especially contribute to healthier arteries.

Air Pollution Contributes to Health Disparities

Apr 19, 2018

Pittsburgh study links air pollution to increased heart risks in black adults.

Study Challenges Existence of the "Obesity Paradox"

Apr 12, 2018
Study debunks the theory that being overweight is associated with increased longevity.

Upbeat Music Boosts Endurance During Cardiac Stress Test

Apr 09, 2018

Study also suggests that music may help with motivation to exercise and exercising longer.

Exercise, Not Weight Loss, Boosts Survival in Patients with Heart Disease

Apr 04, 2018

Study finds even low levels of physical activity reduce risk of death in patients with heart disease.