Having high cholesterol can lead to the buildup of Reference plaque Opens New Window in artery walls. This buildup is called Reference atherosclerosis. It can lead to Reference coronary artery disease Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window (CAD), Reference heart attack Opens New Window, Reference stroke Opens New Window or Reference transient ischemic attack (TIA) Opens New Window, and Reference peripheral arterial disease Opens New Window.
Atherosclerosis can cause these problems because it:
- Narrows your arteries. When enough plaque builds up, it starts to narrow your arteries. This happens slowly over many years. In time, the plaque can limit blood flow throughout your body, including the heart and brain.
- Hardens your arteries. A healthy artery can widen (dilate) so that more blood can flow through when needed, such as during activity. When hard plaque forms in the walls of an artery, it can make the artery too stiff to widen. This "hardening" of your arteries can also limit blood flow in your body.
- Blocks your arteries. When a blood clot forms around a crack or rupture in the plaque, it can block the artery. This can cause a heart attack or stroke.
For more information, see:
- Reference Coronary Artery Disease.
- Reference Stroke.
- Reference Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).
- Reference Peripheral Arterial Disease of the Legs.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference June 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Reference Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology