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

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Calculations of Cardiovascular Risk are Outdated, Study Finds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.

CardioSmart News

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Makes Heart Attack Twice as Likely

Mar 06, 2018
Individuals with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are encouraged to discuss their heart disease risk and prevention strategies with their health care team.

Women with Preterm Deliveries Face Increased Heart Risk

Feb 23, 2018
Mothers of preemies are encouraged to have heart disease risk factors closely monitored.

Fitness Offsets Heart Risks from Hardening Arteries

Feb 06, 2018
Being fit helps counteract the dangers of unhealthy arteries, finds Texas study.

Study Clarifies How Often We Should Measure Calcium in the Arteries

Dec 21, 2017
Repeat testing for coronary artery calcium has little benefit for certain patients.

Moderate Exercise Reduces Risk of Death in Women

Dec 14, 2017
A study of more than 17,000 women links physical activity to a longer, healthier life.

Half of Patients with Ideal Cholesterol Have Underlying Heart Risks

Dec 14, 2017
Many patients with optimal health have dangerous plaque build-up in their arteries.

Medication Adherence Remains Challenging for Heart Patients

Dec 12, 2017
Taking medication as directed is critical to improving outcomes.

The Heart Health Benefits of Nuts

Nov 14, 2017
A recent study links peanuts and walnuts to significantly reduced risk for heart disease.
I am CardioSmart

Enter the "I am CardioSmart" Contest

Oct 31, 2017

Tell us how you are living well with heart disease for a chance to win a $100 gift card!

Meditation for Heart Health?

Oct 18, 2017
Experts explore meditation as a potential tool for improving heart health.

One in Twelve Deaths Could be Prevented with Regular Exercise

Oct 17, 2017

Getting the recommended levels of exercise significantly reduces risk for heart attack and death, study finds.