What are the causes of Atherosclerosis?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Dec 29, 2012

The exact cause of atherosclerosis isn't known. However, studies show that atherosclerosis is a slow, complex disease that may start in childhood. It develops faster as you age.


Atherosclerosis may start when certain factors damage the inner layers of the arteries. These factors include:


•    Smoking
•    High amounts of certain fats and cholesterol in the blood
•    High blood pressure
•    High amounts of sugar in the blood due to insulin resistance or diabetes


When damage occurs, your body starts a healing process. The healing may cause plaque to build up where the arteries are damaged.


Eventually, a section of plaque can break open, causing a blood clot to form at the site. A blood clot will narrow the artery even more and may worsen angina (chest pain) or cause a heart attack or stroke.


Researchers continue to look for the causes of atherosclerosis. They hope to find answers to questions such as:


•    Why and how do the arteries become damaged?
•    How does plaque develop and change over time?
•    Why does plaque crack and lead to blood clots?

 

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