Main content

    Health Information

    Atherosclerosis

    Atherosclerosis

    Picture of normal artery and 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 narrows the artery and blocks 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.

    By Healthwise Staff
    Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
    Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
    Last Revised April 6, 2012

    Last Revised: April 6, 2012

    Author: Healthwise Staff

    Medical Review: Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

    1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.