Atherosclerosis

Prevention and treatment can drastically reduce risk for heart disease.

JoAnne M. Foody, 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

Economic and Social Forces Have Big Impact on Heart Health

Aug 21, 2015
The American Heart Association has issued a scientific statement addressing social factors that influence risk for heart disease.

Chocolate Protects Against Heart Disease and Stroke

Jul 01, 2015
Moderate chocolate consumption helps, not harms, cardiovascular health.

Action, Not Advice, Helps Smokers Quit

Jun 25, 2015
Creating a quit plan and providing tools for ongoing support is more effective than education alone in helping smokers quit.

Cash Incentives Help Smokers Quit

Jun 03, 2015
Rewards-based programs are much more appealing than deposit-based programs, which require smokers to risk their own money.

Mediterranean Diet Improves Memory and Brain Function

May 26, 2015
A diet rich in olive oil and nuts may improve brain function and reduce risk for dementia.

Few Women with Heart Disease Counseled on Birth Control Methods

May 14, 2015
A review of research on this topic finds gaps in care and stresses early education for girls.

A National Plan to Get America Moving

May 11, 2015

Proposed changes to our physical and social environments encourage regular physical activity for Americans throughout the course of the day.

Detecting Clogged Arteries to Potentially Prevent Heart Disease

May 02, 2015

3–D testing finds nearly two-thirds of healthy, middle-aged adults have early signs of heart disease.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Rare for Adults Engaged in Sports

Apr 23, 2015

Study highlights the benefits of exercise and sports in middle-aged adults, as well as CPR training.

Is There an Exercise 'Sweet Spot' for Longer Life?

Apr 23, 2015
Two large-scale studies take a close look at meeting or exceeding current exercise guidelines, but one thing is clear: Any physical activity is far better than none.

Strategies for Combatting Childhood Obesity

Apr 07, 2015
Early lifestyle interventions are urgently needed to stop growing childhood obesity rates.

Children of Smokers Have Increased Risk of Heart Disease in Adulthood

Apr 03, 2015

Quitting is the best approach for the health of the family, but limiting children’s exposure to smoke can help.

Exercise Prevents Fall Injuries in Older Women

Apr 03, 2015

Finnish study assesses the effects of Vitamin D and strength training in women prone to falling.

CardioSmart News

Short Hospital Stays after Angioplasty Are Often Sufficient for Older Patients

Mar 31, 2015
Study finds patients 65 or older discharged from the hospital as early as 48 hours after angioplasty following a heart attack have similar outcomes as those who stay four-to-five days.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking After Heart Surgery

Mar 16, 2015
Not smoking after heart surgery reduces risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
CardioSmart News

Antidepressants Cut Heart Risks in Half

Mar 15, 2015
Study analyzes benefits of treatment for moderate to severe depression with and without statins.

What Kind of Exercise is Best for Waist Size?

Mar 13, 2015
Both low- and high-impact exercise help us lose weight, but each provides different types of added benefits.
CardioSmart News

Same-Day Discharge after ICD Placement Shown to be Safe

Mar 11, 2015

With appropriate follow-up, eligible patients released the same day do just as well as those kept overnight.

Frailty Increases Risk of Heart Disease in Older Adults

Mar 10, 2015
Addressing early signs of frailty could help ward off heart conditions later in life.

Peanuts: A Low-Cost Food with a High Impact on Health

Mar 10, 2015
The humble legume offers heart-health benefits on par with more expensive nuts.

Moderate Physical Activity Benefits the Heart the Most

Feb 27, 2015

Study finds that women who exercise moderately—not strenuously—a few times a week have lower risk for heart attack and stroke.

Sauna Use Linked to Improved Heart Health

Feb 27, 2015
Study follows sauna bathers for over two decades and finds lower rates of sudden cardiac death among most frequent users.

Preventing Heart Attack and Stroke After Open Heart Surgery

Feb 24, 2015

After open heart surgery, patients must work with their care teams to manage health risks.

CardioSmart News

Angioplasty for Patients with Chronic Blockages Underutilized

Feb 17, 2015
Researchers in an almost 4-year study found that angioplasty for patients with chronic blockages made up only 3.8% of the total number of angioplasties performed for stable heart disease.

Survey: 1 in 3 Americans Prefers Shorter Life to Daily Pill

Feb 06, 2015

Researchers explore the uptake of a preventive heart disease medicine.

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