Blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body are called arteries. Arteries that are not diseased are flexible and elastic. With increasing age and due to other factors, too much pressure in your arteries can make the walls thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. Hardening of arteries ensues which is called as arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis, but the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Buildup of fats and cholesterol in and on walls of arteries (plaques) is called as atherosclerosis. This process can restrict blood flow.
Another hazard associated with these plaques is that they can burst, triggering a blood clot. Atherosclerosis is generally considered a problem of arteries of heart, though it can affect arteries anywhere in your body. It is important to recognize that atherosclerosis is a preventable and treatable condition.
With increasing age, hardening of the arteries occurs. Apart from getting older as a risk factor, other factors that increase the risk of atherosclerosis include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- A family history of early heart disease