Atherosclerosis | Complications

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How does atherosclerosis affect my body?

Atherosclerosis is the primary cause of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Types of cardiovascular disease include:

  • Coronary artery disease: Coronary artery disease occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. When blood flow to your heart muscle slows or when the arteries become blocked, it can cause chest pain and heart attack.
  • Small vessel disease: Small vessel disease occurs when plaque builds up in the small blood vessels of your heart. This can weaken your heart and cause chest pain, especially during exercise.
  • Stroke: A stroke occurs when an artery that carries blood to your brain becomes blocked. This can cause temporary or permanent brain damage, and you may lose the ability to see, speak or to move parts of your body.
  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD): PAD occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to your arms or legs. This can cause numbness, pain and possibly infection in your affected limb(s).

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Created: 12/10

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