Atherosclerosis is the disease of the arterial wall and is the underlying cause of coronary heart disease which is in turn the cause of heart attacks.
penetrate the inner lining of the arteries and cause inflammation and scarring.
The fatty material known as atheroma
builds up on top of these scars. A large build up is known as a athermotous
plaque. Blood clots often form on these plaques, creating the potential
for a possibly fatal blood block (thrombus) in the artery. Also, calcium can
harden the plaques causing hardening of the arteries.
atherosclerosis most often occurs in the coronary
arteries it also occurs in the arteries that supply places such as the brain
(causing stroke) and legs (causing gangrene). Athermotous plaques are found
most often at arterial branches where the blood flow is slow and there is a
lot of turbulence.
Susceptibility to atherosclerosis seems to depend a lot on a person's life style. Americans and people in northern European countries often have high levels atherosclerosis. This is a result of the high level of cholesterol in their diets, which encourage the build up of athermotous plaque.
Check out our Health section for information on healthy, low cholesterol diets.