What Causes Atherosclerosis? This is What You Need to Know

Are you wondering what causes atherosclerosis? If yes, you should check out our simple guide here on the key things to understand.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, some people who have atherosclerosis may not have any signs or symptoms.

Many may not be diagnosed until after a significant medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke.

It’s essential to understand what causes atherosclerosis to make sure you can take steps to help prevent the disease.

Keep reading this guide to learn more about the causes of atherosclerosis to help you understand the disease better.

What Causes Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a progressive, chronic disease that causes plaque to buildup in the arteries leading to narrowing and eventually restricting blood flow. The plaque is made up of fats, oils, and calcium deposits sticking together and building up over time.

The disease can lead to serious medical emergencies like stroke, heart attack, and heart failure. Keep reading to learn what causes this disease to ensure you can take the necessary steps to help prevent atherosclerosis.


Diet plays a significant role when it comes to most arterial diseases. It is essential to limit food and drinks that contain added sugars. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends, on average, you consume no more than nine teaspoons of sugar for men and no more than six tablespoons for women.

It is also critical to limit foods high in salt, as it can lead to higher blood pressure. The AHA recommends you consume no more than 2,300 mg a day, but would prefer consuming less than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.

Lastly, limit foods that are high in trans fat. Look for better sources of fats like monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, coming from foods like avocados, olive oil, nuts, and fatty fish.

The AHA recommends eating an overall healthy diet consisting of:

  • Fruits and vegetables 
  • Skinless poultry and fish
  • Whole grains 
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and legumes
  • And non-tropical vegetable oils

Eating a healthy diet like the one recommended by the AHA is a crucial factor in atherosclerosis prevention.

High Cholesterol 

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s in all of the cells of your body. Our bodies require some cholesterol to function correctly and to help produce hormones.

The problem occurs when your body has too much cholesterol, and it sticks to other fatty-like substances. When this happens, it forms plaque that attaches to the walls of the arteries, causing the wall to thicken and harden over time. 

The hardening of plaque can eventually lead to clogged arteries. The signs of clogged arteries are chest pain, shortness of breath, and weakness, or dizziness. 

When plaque builds up in major arteries of the leg, arm, and pelvis, it is a condition called peripheral artery disease (PAD). Treatment for pad includes lifestyle changes, medicine, and surgery.


A sedentary lifestyle could potentially be another cause of atherosclerosis. Regular exercise can help keep your heart healthy and delivering oxygen throughout the body.

Smoking tobacco can also damage your blood vessels and can lead to plaque in the aorta. 

Stress can also be a contributing factor when it comes to plaque buildup. It is essential to manage your stress and keep it at healthy levels.

For More Useful Information

After reading through this, you should have a good idea of what causes atherosclerosis. It is essential to consume a healthy diet, keep cholesterol levels down, and manage an active lifestyle to prevent atherosclerosis.

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