What Is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis caused by a build-up of plaque in the inner lining of an artery and is the most common cause of vascular disease. (Arteriosclerosis is a general term for thickening or hardening of the arteries.) The arteries get clogged with plaque over many years by fatty materials and other substances in the blood stream.

Plaque is made up of deposits of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium, and fibrin, and can develop in medium or large arteries. The artery wall becomes thickened and looses its elasticity.

Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease that may start as early as childhood. However, the disease has the potential to progress rapidly.

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