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How does atherosclerosis cause cardiovascular disease?

Dr. George P. Heyrich, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Basically, atherosclerosis just describes any cholesterol build up in any artery. You can have atherosclerosis in the leg artery and that’s called peripheral vascular disease. You can have atherosclerosis in the brain arteries and that can cause a stroke and if you have it in the heart arteries, it’s called coronary heart disease.

It’s basically just describing cholesterol build up in the artery and a bystander of that cholesterol build up is calcification of the arteries due to the injury. That’s why it’s called hardening of the arteries.

Cardiovascular disease refers to diseases of the heart and blood vessels caused by atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis involves a build-up of fat (including cholesterol) and narrowing of the blood vessels, which can lead to reduced blood flow. When atherosclerosis reduces blood flow to an organ it can result in organ damage. If this happens in a blood vessel delivering blood to the heart, it causes a heart attack. If it happens in a blood vessel delivering blood to the brain, it causes a stroke.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.