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Atherosclerosis
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Atherosclerosis - Coronary artery disease

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Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis. It comes from the Greek words athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (hardness). It's the term for the process of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) building up in the inner lining of an artery. The buildup that results is called plaque. Arteriosclerosis is a general term for the thickening and hardening of arteries. Some hardening of arteries normally occurs when people grow older.

Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease. It results from atherosclerosis - the gradual buildup of plaques in blood vessels that feed your heart (your coronary arteries).

Over time these plaques - deposits of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other cellular sludge from your blood - can narrow your coronary arteries, so less blood flows to your heart muscle. Diminished blood flow to your heart can cause chest pain (angina). A sudden, complete blockage can lead to a heart attack.

The problem is that many people who have this form of heart disease aren't aware they have it. Coronary artery disease, or coronary heart disease, develops slowly and silently, over decades. It can go virtually unnoticed until it produces a heart attack.

How do you know whether you have this silent, potential killer? Your doctor can help answer that question based on test results and your level of risk. Risk factors for coronary artery disease include family history of heart disease, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and physical inactivity.

You can prevent or slow coronary artery disease by taking steps to improve the health of your heart and blood vessels. Drugs and surgical techniques can repair narrowed coronary arteries, but the best long-term solution is to make lifestyle choices that can control risk factors for coronary artery disease.

 

 

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