Definitions

arteries

atherosclerosis

[ath-uh-roh-skluh-roh-sis, ath-]
or hardening of the arteries

Chronic disease characterized by abnormal thickening of the walls of the arteries due to fatty deposits (atheromas) of cholesterol on the arterial inner walls (seeartery). These thicken, forming plaques that narrow the vessel channel (lumen) and impede blood flow. Scarring and calcification make the walls less elastic, raising blood pressure. Eventually plaques may completely block a lumen, or a blood clot (thrombus) may obstruct a narrowed channel. Atherosclerosis of one or more coronary arteries (also called coronary heart disease) can decrease the heart muscle's blood supply, causing angina pectoris. Complete blockage causes heart attack. In the brain, atherosclerosis may result in stroke. Treatments include drugs that reduce the level of cholesterol and fat in the blood, anticoagulants and other drugs that prevent the formation of blood clots, coronary bypass, and balloon angioplasty.

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