Atherosclerosis is a disease that affects the arteries, which carry blood to the organs of the body.
Normal arteries allow blood to flow freely. However, arteries can become narrowed by deposits on their linings called plaques. Plaques are made up of cholesterol and inflammatory materials. This disease process is called atherosclerosis and it can occur in any artery of the body. Atherosclerotic plaques build up over time and can decrease the amount of blood flow to the area the artery supplies.
Atherosclerosis can begin at a young age even though it may not cause problems until years later. Atherosclerosis is a major cause of heart disease and stroke in adults.