Hardening of the Arteries

"Hardening of the arteries" is a general term referring to a number of conditions that cause blood vessels (such as the coronary arteries) to harden and thicken. The most common form is atherosclerosis, which is often caused by a slow buildup of plaque on the inside walls of the arteries.

What Are "Hardened Arteries"?

Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Hardening of the arteries (also known as arteriosclerosis) is a condition that causes blood vessels in the body to harden and thicken. The condition is most often caused by the slow buildup of plaque on the inside walls of the arteries.
 
Hardening of the arteries is responsible for the majority of deaths in the United States.
 

What Causes Them?

Several different conditions can cause hardening of the arteries. In most cases, it is caused by atherosclerosis, a disease caused by the slow buildup of plaque on the inside walls of the arteries. It may also be caused by conditions such as focal calcific arteriosclerosis and arteriolosclerosis.
 

What Is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is hardening and narrowing of medium-size and larger blood vessels, such as the aorta and those found in the heart (coronary arteries), brain, and legs. Atherosclerosis is by far the most common type of hardening of the arteries. It is caused by the slow buildup of plaque on the inside walls of arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in your blood. As it grows, the buildup of plaque narrows the inside of the artery and, in time, may restrict blood flow.
 
For more about this type of hardening of the arteries, see the full eMedTV articles listed below:
 
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