Atherosclerosis

Picture of normal artery and artery narrowed by atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a process by which fat and calcium build up in the inner lining of the arteries, forming a plaque. Over time, this buildup narrows the artery and interferes with or blocks blood flow through the artery.

Coronary artery disease is atherosclerosis in the heart (coronary) arteries. Peripheral arterial disease of the legs is atherosclerosis in the leg arteries. If atherosclerosis affects the brain arteries (carotid or cerebral arteries), a stroke can occur.

Last Updated: October 16, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery

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