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

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 17, 2016

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., in March 2017!

Statins Aren't the Only Option for Lowering Cholesterol

Oct 10, 2016

Other cholesterol lowering therapies—including a heart-healthy diet—can be similarly effective at lowering cholesterol and cardiovascular risk, finds study.

ACC Partners with Google to Share Reliable Heart Health Information

Sep 20, 2016
“Ask a Doctor” feature promotes patient-provider engagement.

The Importance of Promoting Heart Health in Children

Sep 17, 2016
Experts highlight early education about heart health for prevention later in life.

Sleep Deprivation Takes a Toll on Heart Health

Jul 28, 2016

Many studies show that a lack of sleep can have a negative impact on heart health, but few have determined why.

Air Pollution Accelerates Damage to the Heart's Arteries

Jul 24, 2016
Study shows how long-term exposure to air pollution promotes dangerous calcium build-up.
CardioSmart News

New Decision Tool Helps Refine Blood Thinner Use in Stent Patients

May 24, 2016

DAPT score helps weigh the risks and benefits of continued dual antiplatelet therapy after stent implantation.

CardioSmart News

Equally Aggressive Treatment Needed for Men and Women with Heart Disease

May 23, 2016
While risk factors may differ, study findings suggest plaque build-up in arteries is just as dangerous in all patients.
CardioSmart News

Stress Tests Less Useful for Assessing Heart Disease in Women than Men

May 22, 2016

Cardiac imaging proves more useful than stress tests for determining heart risk in women, finds study.

CardioSmart News

Virtual Health Programs Could Improve Global Health

May 22, 2016
An online challenge promotes physical activity and weight loss in over 60 countries.

Heart Disease Burden Has Shifted to Southern U.S. States

May 04, 2016

The highest death rates from heart disease have shifted to the South since the 1970s.

Coronary Artery Calcium Scans Help Refine Treatment Decisions

May 03, 2016

Landmark research demonstrates the benefits of using CAC tests when appropriate.

Tai Chi Boosts Quality of Life in Patients with Heart Disease

May 01, 2016

A review of 35 studies confirms heart health benefits of traditional Chinese exercises.

Experts Endorse Routine Imaging to Screen for Heart Disease

Apr 30, 2016

Experts argue for more comprehensive heart screenings.

Endometriosis Increases Risk for Heart Disease in Young Women

Apr 23, 2016

A condition affecting the female reproductive organs triples risk for heart disease in women under 40.

Updated Guidelines for Dual Blood Thinners to Treat Heart Disease

Apr 22, 2016

New recommendations help reduce risk of complications and maximize benefits of treatment.

Anxiety Masks Heart Disease in Women

Mar 16, 2016

Heart disease may be overlooked in women with anxiety, causing delays in diagnosis and treatment.

Decline in Dementia Rates Over Past Three Decades

Mar 08, 2016

Study analyzed data on trends in older adults in the Framingham Heart Study.

Dementia and Heart Disease Are Major Concerns for Elderly Adults

Mar 01, 2016

Researchers explore whether preventing calcium build-up in arteries would mitigate the likelihood of developing the conditions.

Texting Programs Improve Medication Adherence in Patients with Chronic Disease

Feb 26, 2016
A recent study suggests that text messaging programs double the odds of medication adherence in adults with chronic disease.

Simple Tests Help Assess Risk for Heart Disease

Feb 09, 2016
Other health markers besides traditional risk factors can shed light on risk and treatment.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Promote Dangerous Belly Fat

Jan 27, 2016
Consuming one sugar-sweetened beverage a day increases dangerous belly fat linked to heart disease and diabetes, finds study.

Too Little Exercise Remains a Prime Concern for Americans

Jan 18, 2016
Experts reaffirm that health benefits from exercise far outweigh risks.

Cardiac Rehab is Lifesaving for Heart Patients

Jan 10, 2016

Exercise-based rehab programs reduce risk for heart-related death by 26%.

Heart Disease Remains Top Killer in the United States

Jan 10, 2016

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 3 deaths, highlighting an urgent need for prevention and treatment.