Also known as atherosclerosis.
In healthy people, the arteries are flexible and elastic. Atherosclerosis is a disease caused by the accumulation of fatty deposits and other substances on the inner surface of the arteries. Over the years, these deposits form plaque that can make the arteries rigid and decrease their internal diameter; blood flow may then be insufficient to provide adequate oxygen to the different parts of the body. Atherosclerosis may occur in all arteries of the body, including the arteries of the heart (coronary arteries). The information below concerns coronary arteries. When the coronary arteries (arteries that feed the heart) are affected, this is referred to as coronary artery disease. The progressive narrowing of the arteries can slowly reduce delivery of blood to the heart and gradually cause what is known as angina. However, if an artery is suddenly blocked by a clot (which may or may not be related to the narrowing), this is called acute coronary syndrome (myocardial infarction or unstable angina).
The risk factors are diseases or characteristics that promote the onset and accelerate the progression of arteriosclerosis. These are:
Arteriosclerosis is a condition that develops gradually over the years, and a mild or moderate decrease in artery diameter generally does not lead to symptoms.