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Atherosclerosis

Normal artery and blood flow and an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries," occurs when cholesterol, calcium, and other substances build up in the inner lining of the arteries, forming a material called plaque. Over time, plaque buildup may narrow the artery and limit blood flow through it.

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.

Current as of: August 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review:

Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology

E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine

Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine

Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology