Atherosclerosis occurs when the blood vessels develop an excessive buildup of plaque, which causes them to harden. The condition often occurs in the heart, but can also be found in the brain, kidneys, and arms and legs. The disease is complex and progresses gradually. Scientists are not yet sure what triggers it, exactly, but some risk factors have been identified.
Symptoms of atherosclerosis will depend on the area of the body that is affected. In addition, various tests will be used to make a diagnosis and develop an appropriate treatment plan. This almost always includes lifestyle changes; medications or surgical procedures may also be advised.
(Click Atherosclerosis to learn more about this disease, including who it affects, how to prevent it, and more.)