Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the arteries get blocked due to the deposition of fatty substances, cholesterol and and abnormal cells on the walls of the arteries. Though anyone can suffer from atherosclerosis, there are a few risk factors which put a person at a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis.
A block in the arteries is actually caused by narrowing and thickening of the walls of arteries due to the deposition of fatty substances such as cholesterol along with other cellular waste. The substances that get accumulated along the arteries form a buildup called plaque or atheroma. Plaques are mainly dangerous because they narrow the arteries, restrict the blood flow and can hamper the functioning of several organs. Plaques can also rupture and result in a blood clot which again blocks the blood supply to the heart. These conditions either trigger a heart attack or a stroke affecting the brain. Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of peripheral vascular disease.
Atherosclerosis is a slow disease and takes really long time to progress and cause complications. In a few people, plaque formation may start during childhood and may advance rapidly during 30s. In others, it doesn’t really pose a threat until 50s or 60s. With all advances in surgical and operative procedures, people who initially show the symptoms of heart attack can prevent the complications in advance. But, people in whom any signs are not seen at an early stage are at a greater risk. (Read: Silent heart attacks: Why you need to be aware)