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Glossary of Terms

Arteriosclerosis / Atherosclerosis

A generalized condition affecting the walls of the arteries. It is commonly referred to as "Hardening of the arteries". The cause of arteriosclerosis is not 100% defined, but major risk factors for developing arteriosclerosis include genetics, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor diet, cigarette smoking, and lack of exercise. Arteriosclerosis is a slow process that begins early in life and develops over time. The end result is usually narrowing of the arteries by a build up of minerals and fatty deposits (plaque). The narrowing can progress to occlusion (obstruction or a closure of a passageway or vessel). Heart attacks and strokes are often the end result of severe arteriosclerosis of the arteries which supply the heart and brain with oxygen-rich blood.

Atherosclerosis showing artery with no plaque and artery with plaque buildup.

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