What is Atherosclerosis

What is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a heart and artery disease where plaque builds up inside the arteries. These arteries are in everyone’s bodies, and are known as blood vessels. These blood vessels carry oxygenated blood to your heart, and throughout the rest of the body. The plaque that goes into these arteries is made up of cholesterol, fat, calcium and other fatty substances that can normally found in blood. With time, this plaque hardens and this narrows the arteries in the body.

This severely limits the flow of blood and oxygen through the arteries to be dispersed through the other parts of the body. Having atherosclerosis can lead to many major health issues such as stroke, heart attack or death.

Diseases Related to Atherosclerosis


Atherosclerosis is able to affect any artery in the body, whether it is the brain, heart, legs, arms, kidneys or pelvis. As a result of this, many different conditions can develop based on which arteries are having an issue.Some of these issues can include, but are not limited to: coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, carotid artery disease and chronic kidney disease.

Cause and Outlook 

The cause of atherosclerosis is not known. However, there are conditions, habits and certain traits that can increase the risk of developing this condition. These are known as risk factors, and they include, but are not limited to low physical activity, unhealthy diet and smoking or doing drugs. Some risk factors that cannot be controlled include having a family history of heart disease or your age. Some people with this condition do not show any signs or symptoms, and will not be diagnosed until after having a stroke or heart attack.

The treatment for atherosclerosis is having changes made to your lifestyle, with medications and medical procedures to control the issues. Having these treatments with ongoing medical care and advice can help the patient live a longer, healthier, happier life.

A picture of Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD wearing his Mercy One doctor attire.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery