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

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.

Study Questions Routine Heart Tests in Healthy Patients

Aug 11, 2017

Despite recommendations against routine heart tests, one in five healthy Canadians receive ECGs after annual visit.

Lifestyle Counseling Proves Useful for Heart Disease Prevention

Aug 10, 2017
Adults at low risk for heart disease consistently benefit from counseling that promotes exercise and a healthy diet.

Breastfeeding Protects Women from Heart Disease

Jul 30, 2017
Breastfeeding, especially for longer durations, helps reduce women’s risk for heart disease.

Swap Saturated Fats with Unsaturated Fats for a Healthy Heart

Jul 30, 2017

Unsaturated fats can reduce cholesterol levels and reduce risk for heart disease and stroke.

Extreme Long Distance Running Has Questionable Impact on Heart

Jul 28, 2017

Small study suggests extreme levels of running may hurt, not help, the heart.

Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Heart Risks in Elderly Individuals

Jul 28, 2017
Study suggests we’re never too told to benefit from heart-healthy changes.

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, including heart failure.

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.