If left to get worse, atherosclerosis can potentially lead to a number of serious conditions known as cardiovascular disease (CVD). There will not usually be any symptoms until CVD develops.
Types of CVD include:
Exactly why and how arteries become clogged is unclear.
It can happen to anyone, although the following things can increase your risk:
You cannot do anything about some of these factors, but by tackling things like an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise you can help reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and CVD.
Speak to your GP if you're worried you may be at a high risk of atherosclerosis.
If you're between the ages of 40 and 74, you should have an NHS Health Check every 5 years, which will include tests to find out if you're at risk of atherosclerosis and CVD.
Your GP or practice nurse can work out your level of risk by taking into account factors such as:
Depending on your result, you may be advised to make lifestyle changes, consider taking medication or have further tests to check for atherosclerosis and CVD.
Making healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing atherosclerosis and may help stop it getting worse.
The main ways you can reduce your risk are:
There are not currently any treatments that can reverse atherosclerosis, but the healthy lifestyle changes suggested above may help stop it getting worse.
Sometimes additional treatment to reduce the risk of problems like heart attacks and strokes may also be recommended, such as: