Atherosclerosis, or arteriosclerosis, is a buildup of fat deposits on the walls of your arteries. These deposits cause cartilage in the arteries to lose elasticity and the artery walls to become hard and thick.

Atherosclerosis can lead to major health problems. The fat may continue to grow inside the artery until the deposits rupture. This causes the artery to narrow, which limits the amount of blood that can travel its path. Suddenly, vital organs may not be receiving the blood they need to function. Doctors may treat severely clogged arteries by performing an angioplasty. This procedure restretches and widens the narrow arteries so that the blood can flow more smoothly through the body.

On the other hand, the fat may not rupture. Instead, an aneurysm – a bulge in the wall of an artery- may form to accommodate the growing size of the deposits. Unfortunately, the aneurysm can burst and cause a stroke. There are several treatment options available for people with aneurysms. It is important to take care of the problem with the help of your doctor since both ruptured fat deposits and aneurysm can cause life-threatening problems, such as blood clots, cardiac arrest, heart attack, or stroke.

Risk factors for developing atherosclerosis include family history of heart disease, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, and smoking. Yet these factors do not apply to a large percentage of people with atherosclerosis. Research is still being performed on the disease so that we can gain a more complete understanding of it. But there are precautions you can take. Along with the essential nutrients, a diet rich in olive oil and “good” fats wards off many deaths related to atherosclerosis.

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