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

CardioSmart News

Preschoolers Learn Heart-Healthy Lessons with 'Sesame Street'

Nov 25, 2013
Study finds heart-health messages in “Sesame Street” promote healthier behavior in preschool children.

Registry Programs Improve Quality of Care and Outcomes

Nov 18, 2013
Lessons learned from the American Heart Association’s “Get With The Guidelines” program.

New Guidelines for Treating Older Patients with Heart Disease

Nov 18, 2013
Scientific statement from the American Heart Association updates guidelines for secondary prevention in older adults.

Obesity, Alone, Increases Heart Disease Risk

Nov 13, 2013
Study finds carrying extra weight increases risk for heart disease, regardless of other medical conditions.

Sudden Cardiac Death Rare in Women

Nov 13, 2013
Study finds that sports-related sudden cardiac death is much lower in women compared to men.

FDA Targets Trans Fat in Processed Foods

Nov 07, 2013
The FDA has issued a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils—the major dietary source of trans fat in processed food—are no longer "generally recognized as safe."

Radiation Could Increase Heart Disease Risk in Breast Cancer Patients

Nov 06, 2013
Dosage and location or position of treatment can slightly increase heart disease risk in some women.

First-Ever Trial Comparing Angioplasty Strategies

Nov 06, 2013
Study finds that accessing arteries through the wrist for angioplasty is just as safe and effective in women as traditional access point in the leg.

Take Our "Thanks for Quitting" Challenge

Nov 01, 2013
CardioSmart's "Thanks for Quitting" Challenge is here to help you become smoke-free on or after the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 21.

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Patient Contest

Oct 28, 2013

Tell us how you are CardioSmart and living well with heart disease for a chance to win a trip to Washington, DC.

Flu Shot Curbs Cardiovascular Risk

Oct 23, 2013
The seasonal flu shot is life-saving for patients at high risk for heart disease.

Is Surgery Safe for Stent Patients?

Oct 18, 2013
Study suggests that patients with stents should wait six months to undergo elective surgery to reduce risk of complications.

Comparing Life-Saving Procedures from a Patient Perspective

Oct 18, 2013
Trial compares quality of life in diabetic patients undergoing revascularization procedures CABG and PCI.

Exercise as Effective as Medications for Heart Disease and Diabetes

Oct 18, 2013
Forget the pills. Study finds exercise helps treat and prevent chronic disease as well as medicine.

Hormone Therapy: Do Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

Oct 09, 2013
Study advises against use of hormone therapy for chronic disease prevention, as it may increase long-term health risks.

Chronic Chest Pain Interferes with Work Ability

Oct 08, 2013
Study finds chest pain causes many patients to file for disability, regardless of a heart disease diagnosis.

Flu Shots Vital for People with Heart Disease

Oct 04, 2013
People with heart disease or who have had a stroke face increased chances of developing serious complications from influenza and influenza-related illnesses.

Inflammation Helps Identify Unhealthy Individuals

Oct 04, 2013
Study finds that poor metabolic health is associated with inflammation in obese and non-obese patients.

Aspirin Underutilized in Angioplasty Patients

Oct 03, 2013
Despite its protective effects, many patients undergoing angioplasty don’t receive aspirin.

A Healthy Heart in Your Golden Years

Sep 27, 2013
CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief JoAnne Foody writes about a few key steps that we should all take to boost heart health.

Tour de France Riders Live Longer, Study Finds

Sep 24, 2013
Elite cyclists live longer and have lower risk of death compared to average adults.

Healthy Obesity: An Oxymoron?

Sep 24, 2013
Being more physically fit, having a smaller waistline and having normal blood sugar may help protect some obese individuals from chronic diseases.

Registry Program Sheds Light on Quality of Care

Sep 23, 2013
A report on data from the National Cardiovascular Data Registry highlights success stories and areas of improvement in cardiovascular care.

Sudden Cardiac Death Risk Low Among High School Athletes

Sep 23, 2013
Study urges against widespread screenings to help prevent sudden cardiac death in young athletes.

More Children Severely Obese than Ever Before

Sep 20, 2013
Experts report that 4-6% of children are severely obese, and effective treatments are not well understood.

Get CardioSmart

You're Invited