Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. It is characterized by the buildup of plaque on the inner walls of arteries. This plaque is made up of cholesterol, fatty acids, calcium, and other materials.
Over time, the plaque can harden and narrow the artery, which reduces blood flow to the heart and other organs. Atherosclerosis is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases.
Atherosclerosis usually develops slowly over many years. It often has no symptoms in the early stages. As the disease progresses, it can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and other symptoms.
Atherosclerosis can be diagnosed with tests such as coronary angiography, ultrasound, and CT scan. Treatment typically includes lifestyle changes and medications to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the plaque from the arteries.
There are many risk factors for atherosclerosis, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking. Making healthy lifestyle choices can help reduce your risk of developing this condition.
These choices include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly. If you already have atherosclerosis, there are treatments available to help manage the condition and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.