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

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.

A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle Helps Keep the Mind Intact

Oct 16, 2017
Experts provide simple yet effective strategies for protecting cognitive health as we age.

Continued Use of Low-Dose Aspirin is Critical for Preventing Heart Events

Oct 02, 2017
Stopping aspirin use is linked to 30% increased risk for heart attack, stroke and other heart problems.

Skipping Breakfast Spells Trouble for Heart Health

Oct 02, 2017
A wholesome breakfast is one of many choices that contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

Exercise Lowers Mortality Risk in Patients with Heart Disease

Sep 30, 2017
Researchers found that physical activity was most beneficial in those who were sedentary and had the highest cardiovascular risk.

Hospitals Miss a Golden Opportunity to Help Heart Patients Quit Smoking

Sep 07, 2017
After a heart event is a prime time to encourage medication to help smokers quit.

Disadvantaged Children Face Increased Heart Risks

Aug 30, 2017

Children from poorer families show signs of worsening heart health even before their teenage years.

Heath Effects of Calcium Build-up in Arteries is More Complex than Previously Thought

Aug 24, 2017

The size and density of coronary artery calcium have contrasting effects on risk for heart disease.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Lowers Mortality Risk

Aug 23, 2017
Study finds up to two drinks a day could lead to a longer life.

Too Much Salt Puts Added Stress on Heart

Aug 17, 2017
A recent study confirms that consuming more than 3,700 mg of sodium daily taxes the heart.

Guidelines Fine-Tune Heart Screenings in Young Athletes

Aug 17, 2017
Refined testing would save health care costs while still detecting serious heart conditions.

Weight Gain in Adulthood Spells Trouble for Health

Aug 16, 2017

Gaining more than five pounds by middle age increases risk for chronic disease and earlier death, finds study.