Arteriosclerosis

Arteriosclerosis or Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty material in the arteries that hardens or calcifies. The buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis (ATH-er-o-skler-O-sis), and is more likely to occur in people with high blood cholesterol levels because cholesterol accumulates in the plaques. As the plaques increase in size, the coronary arteries get narrower on the inside, and less blood flows through them. As a result, less blood flows to the heart muscle. Since blood carries oxygen to the heart muscle, the muscle doesn’t get enough. Major complications of the heart muscle not getting enough oxygen can be:

  • Angina – Chest pains or discomfort
  • Heart Attack – Occurs when a blood clot develops where there’s a plaque in a coronary artery and suddenly cuts off most or all of the blood supply to that part of the heart muscle.

More information related to heart disease is provided in our Heart Disease/Cardiovascular Disease Section.