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Arterial Disease

High blood pressure contributes to arteriosclerosis, a general term for the thickening and hardening of the arteries. As we grow older, it is normal to develop some thickening of the arteries. However, if the arteriosclerosis is advanced, heart disease is likely.

One particular kind of arteriosclerosis that contributes to heart disease is atherosclerosis, which comes from the Greek words athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (meaning hardness). Atherosclerosis is a progressive disease that is characterized by a buildup of plaque within the arteries. Plaque is formed from fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste, calcium, and fibrin. Plaque may partially or totally block the blood's flow through an artery. Two things can happen: bleeding into the plaque, or formation of a clot on the surface of the plaque. If either of these happens and blocks the artery, a heart attack or stroke may result.

Some of the factors that contribute to the progression of atherosclerosis are high blood pressure, cigarette smoke, and high cholesterol levels. Learn more about Atherosclerosis.

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