This disease is a buildup of a sticky, fatty substance called “plaque” on the inner walls of your arteries. Plaque buildup limits the flow of blood. This can lead to serious health problems.


The exact cause of atherosclerosis is not known. Many factors can increase your risk for this disease. These include smoking, diabetes, and a diet high in certain types of fat and cholesterols. Your genetics may also raise your risk.


Atherosclerosis can affect arteries in any part of your body. It can cause a wide range of complications. These depend on where the buildup occurs. In the brain, it can lead to stroke. In the heart, it can lead to heart attack. In the legs or other areas, it can lead to severe infections and other problems.


Atherosclerosis can also increase your risk for blood clots. The plaque in an artery can break open. This releases substances that can cause a clot to form. A clot can completely block the flow of blood in that vessel. A clot can also travel to another part of the body and cause a blockage there. A blood clot can be fatal.


Treatment for atherosclerosis may include lifestyle changes and medications. It may also include surgical procedures. Your healthcare provider can create a care plan that is right for your needs.