Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of arteries due to plaque buildup on the artery walls. Arteries carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. They are lined with a thin layer of cells that keeps them smooth and allows blood to flow easily. This is called the endothelium. Atherosclerosis starts when the endothelium becomes damaged, allowing the harmful type of cholesterol to build up in the artery wall.
The body sends a type of white blood cell to clean up this cholesterol, but, sometimes, the cells get stuck at the affected site. Over time, plaque can build up, made of cholesterol, macrophages, calcium, and other substances from the blood. Sometimes, the plaque grows to a certain size and stops growing, causing the individual no problems. However, sometimes, the plaque clogs up the artery, disrupting the flow of blood around the body. This makes blood clots more likely, which can result in life-threatening conditions.
In some cases, the plaque eventually, breaks open. If this happens, platelets gather in the affected area and can stick together, forming blood clots. This can block the artery, leading to life-threatening complications, such as stroke and heart attack. The condition can affect the entire artery tree, but mainly affects the larger, high-pressure arteries.
It is also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease.
Ischemic heart disease happens when the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough oxygen-rich blood to the tissues of the heart when it is needed during periods of stress or physical effort.
If blood flow to your heart muscle is reduced or blocked, you may have angina (chest pain or discomfort) or a heart attack. Coronary microvascular disease is another type of ischemic heart disease. It occurs when the heart’s tiny arteries do not function normally. The cause of atherosclerosis isn't known. However, certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors.
You can control some risk factors, such as lack of physical activity, smoking, and an unhealthy diet. Others you can't control, such as age and a family history of heart disease. Some people who have atherosclerosis have no signs or symptoms. They may not be diagnosed until after a heart attack or stroke. The main treatment for atherosclerosis is lifestyle changes. You also may need medicines and medical procedures. These treatments, along with ongoing medical care, can help you live a healthier life.
Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque. Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body.
As you get older, fats, cholesterol, and calcium can collect in your arteries and form plaque.
Your diet is an important factor in your risk for atherosclerosis, and heart disease generally. Avoid or limit the following items:
Eat These Foods to Cleanse Your Arteries
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