What is it?

Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body. The coronary arteries are the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.
As you get older, fats, cholesterol, and calcium can collect in your arteries and form plaque. The buildup of plaque makes it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries, which can result in a shortage of blood and oxygen in the heart tissue.
Pieces of the plaque can break open, which causes a blood clot to form and block blood flow completely.
Factors that increase your risk of developing atherosclerosis are: high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight, smoking, lack of exercise, family history and advanced age.

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Signs & symptoms

Atherosclerosis itself does not cause any symptoms until a blockage or a serious narrowing that impairs oxygen supply occurs. When this happens, symptoms of narrowing of the coronary arteries that supply your heart (known as Ischemic Heart Disease or Coronary Artery Disease) may cause chest pain and difficulty to breath.


Your doctor will perform a physical exam if you have symptoms related to atherosclerosis and impaired blood flow.
Other specific tests depends may include:

* blood tests
* MRA of CTA - imaging of your arteries
* ECG - measures the electrical activity in your heart
* stress test
* angiogram – a type of X-ray that is taken after injecting a special dye, thus imaging your vessels.


Treatment includes:
* lifestyle modifications - regular exercise program, balanced diet, losing weight, smoking cessation and more.
* Medications to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and medications for diabetes if you have diabetes. These are aimed to control risk factors and prevent progression of your atherosclerosis.
* In case of exacerbation, catheterization or thrombolytic therapy may be needed to dissolve the clot.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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