Atherosclerosis is an insidious disease process of fat accumulation in the inner lining of arteries. The vessel wall is thus getting thicker and thicker, the arteries slowly get narrowed and the flow is hindered. Downstream tissue receives less oxygen-rich blood. Atherosclerosis is a serious chronic disease and can be very dangerous.


Atherosclerosis is caused by an inflammatory process, in which accumulation of fats take place in the wall of the arteries. With aging, this happens in everyone to a greater or lesser extent. The accumulation of fat can be so bad, that a so-called plaque develops, which contains calcium deposits as well. A plaque is a kind of crust-like damage to the inside of the vessel wall. A danger in the short term is that the weakened arterial wall ruptures, leading to clots in the blood that can completely block an artery.
Risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis are:


Depending on the location in the body where the narrowing develops, several signs and symptoms may occur:


During a routine examination, the effects of atherosclerosis are sometimes determined. If this happens, the doctor will do the following checks:


There is no treatment that can cure atherosclerosis. Combating the disease is mainly the prevention of risk factors for atherosclerosis. The treatment may be medication, for example anticoagulants for the prevention of blood clots. Complications of atherosclerosis, such as a heart attack or cerebral infarction, should be treated with urgency. This treatment may be surgically, for example the placement of a stent (a small tube that keeps the blood vessel open) after a heart attack.


Atherosclerosis is a long-lasting disease which continues to deteriorate over a long period. This condition leads to the main cause of death in both men and women: coronary artery disease. Although atherosclerosis is part of the normal aging process, the speed can be reduced by a healthy lifestyle, proper diet and medication. In addition to the clogging of an artery, resulting in an infarct, there is a risk that the vessel wall weakens, making the vessel wider instead of narrower (aneurysm).