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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: April 9, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai, MD - 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