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

Air and Noise Pollution Linked to Increased Heart Risks

Jul 18, 2017
Exposure to environmental stressors revealed higher cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides in study participants. 

Education Has a Strong Impact on Heart Disease Risk

Jul 18, 2017
Dropping out of high school increases future risk for heart disease.

Obesity Affects 1 in 10 People Worldwide

Jul 18, 2017
Global analysis shows rapid increase in overweight and obesity since 1990.

Anabolic Steroids Increase Risk for Heart Disease in Young and Middle-Aged Men

Jul 07, 2017
Study finds long-term steroid use may have a permanent impact on heart health.

U.S. Death Toll from Heart Disease Remains Highest in the South

Jun 29, 2017
While national mortality rates from heart disease have declined, the death toll remains high in southern U.S. states.

Diabetes Drug Protects Heart Health in Prediabetic Men

Jun 15, 2017
Metformin helps prevent calcium build-up in men with prediabetes.

Lack of Evidence on Herbal Remedies and Heart Disease

Jun 15, 2017
Experts urge more research on the risks and benefits of Chinese herbal remedies for heart health.

Yo-Yo Dieting May Be Harmful for Patients with Heart Disease

Jun 06, 2017
Study links body weight fluctuation to increased risk for heart attack, stroke and death in patients with heart disease.

Coronary Artery Calcification Likely the Best Marker of Heart Health

May 16, 2017

Checking for calcium build-up in the heart’s arteries identifies patients at increased risk for heart disease, finds study.

Quality of Life as a Key Goal for Older Adults with Heart Disease

May 10, 2017

Maintaining independence should be a key goal of treatment, argue experts.

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss Linked to Heart Risks in Older Women

May 10, 2017

Maintaining healthy gums may help reduce risk for heart disease.

New Tool Helps Predict Heart Risks in Patients with Familial Hypercholesterolemia

Apr 13, 2017

New tool to guide treatment in patients with a genetic disorder causing dangerously high cholesterol levels.

CardioSmart News

South American Tribe Has World's Healthiest Arteries, Study Finds

Mar 31, 2017
What we can learn from the Tsimane tribe, in which heart disease hardly exists.

Excess Sodium is Leading Dietary Cause of Heart-Related Deaths

Mar 24, 2017

Consuming too much salt has a strong impact on mortality risk from heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Heavy Drinking Increases Heart Risks in Men

Mar 17, 2017

Study links heavy drinking to stiffened arteries in men.

Testosterone Treatment Accelerates Artery Plaque Build-Up

Mar 01, 2017

Study highlights potential health risks of testosterone treatment in older men.

Mediterranean Diet Powers 'Good' Cholesterol's Abilities

Feb 22, 2017

The Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil improves HDL function in adults at high risk for heart disease.

Heart Failure Rates on the Rise, Show Latest Statistics

Feb 01, 2017

While heart failure has become an increasing concern, overall death rates from heart disease declined by 25% in recent years.

Alcohol Abuse Doubles Risk for Heart Disease

Jan 21, 2017

The negative health effects of alcohol abuse are similar to that of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, finds study.

New, Sex-Specific Calculator Refines Heart Patients' Mortality Risk

Nov 17, 2016

Used with exercise stress tests, the new calculator better predicts mortality risk for both women and men.

Healthy Lifestyle Helps Offset Genetic Risk for Heart Disease

Nov 15, 2016
For patients with high genetic risk for heart disease, healthy lifestyle choices nearly cut risk in half, finds study.

Inflammation Triggers Heart Problems From Air Pollution

Nov 14, 2016

Chronic inflammation of blood vessels leads to clogged arteries and increased cardiovascular risk.

Calcium Has No Impact—Good or Bad—On Heart Health

Nov 14, 2016

Despite mixed findings, experts offer guidelines on calcium intake for adults without heart disease.

Low Testosterone is Not an Independent Risk Factor for Stroke, Finds Study

Oct 27, 2016
Researchers question whether treating testosterone level improves heart health.

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!