Coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries) is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.
The exact cause of atherosclerosis isn't known. However, certain traits, conditions, or habits may raise your risk for the disease. These conditions are known as risk factors. The more risk factors you have, the more likely it is that you'll develop atherosclerosis.
You can control most risk factors and help prevent or delay atherosclerosis. Other risk factors can't be controlled.
Although age and a family history of early heart disease are risk factors, it doesn't mean that you'll develop atherosclerosis if you have one or both. Controlling other risk factors often can lessen genetic influences and prevent atherosclerosis, even in older adults.
Studies show that an increasing number of children and youth are at risk for atherosclerosis. This is due to a number of causes, including rising childhood obesity rates.
Scientists continue to study other possible risk factors for atherosclerosis.
High levels of a protein called C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood may raise the risk for atherosclerosis and heart attack. High levels of CRP are a sign of inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the body's response to injury or infection. Damage to the arteries' inner walls seems to trigger inflammation and help plaque grow.
People who have low CRP levels may develop atherosclerosis at a slower rate than people who have high CRP levels. Research is under way to find out whether reducing inflammation and lowering CRP levels also can reduce the risk for atherosclerosis.
High levels of triglycerides (tri-GLIH-seh-rides) in the blood also may raise the risk for atherosclerosis, especially in women. Triglycerides are a type of fat.
Studies are under way to find out whether genetics may play a role in atherosclerosis risk.
Other factors also may raise your risk for atherosclerosis, such as:
What is atherosclerosis?
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Atherosclerosis, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
November 18, 2013
Renal artery stents lead to similar outcome versus medication-only
A commonly used stenting procedure to treat plaque build-up in the renal artery appears to offer no significant improvement when added to medication-based therapy, according to results from a National Institutes of Health-funded study. The narrowing and hardening of one or both renal arteries, known as renal artery stenosis, occurs in 1 to 5 percent of people who have high blood pressure, or hypertension.
September 2, 2014
Gary H. Gibbons
Researcher Brings Medicine One Step Closer to Widely Available Cure for Sickle Cell Disease
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.