What is arteriosclerotic heart disease

what is arteriosclerotic heart diseaseWhat is arteriosclerotic heart disease

People want to know what is arteriosclerotic heart disease or  (ASHD) the condition happens when there is a hardening and thickening of the coronary artery walls.

Atherosclerosis develops where there are clogged arteries containing fatty substances known as plaque or atheroma.

Even now the process of Arteriosclerotic heart disease is not fully understood, inflammation plays a big role by retaining low density lipoprotein particles (LDL) in the endothelial cells of the blood vessels wall.

This retention could be the beginning, cause or effect of the underlying inflammatory process.

What actually happens?

Fatty deposits occur on the endothelium or inner lining of the arteries they thicken and harden, calcification occurs on the artery walls or chronic high blood pressure thickens the muscular walls of the arterial wall.

The coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle are affected by a reduced flow of blood and oxygen, the consequences of which could be a heart attack.

What is arteriosclerotic heart disease  can be determined by an angiogram wherby a dye is inserted into the blood vessels and the results can be seen on a monitor by a heart specialist.

Arteries become stiff

The blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients from the heart through the arteries become stiff and thicken, this has a restructive effect on blood flow to the tissues and major organs like the heart and brain.

When your arteries are in a healthy state this is not a problem because they are stretchy and flexible however when plaque starts to build up your arteries start to harden and over time hardening of the arteries occurs.

In essence this is precisely the answer to what is arteriosclerotic heart disease.

What is Atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis are often used to describe the buildup of cholesterol, fats and other debris in and around the artery wall (plaque) causing a restriction in blood flow.

Plaque is very dangerous it can break off and trigger a heart attack, atherosclerosis is thought of as a problem in the heart but it can affect other arteries in the body.


Symptoms Symptoms of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition that progresses gradually, during the mild stage it can be difficult to find any symptoms.

However arteries become clogged up and narrow, the system cannot supply enough blood to the tissues and vital organs, blood clots form and can block blood flow altogether or worse can break apart triggering a heart attack or a stroke.

The symptoms of mild to severe atherosclerosis will depend on where the blockages have occurred for example;

In the arteries going to the heart symptoms like chest pain or angina (pressure)

In the arteries going to the brain symptoms like weakness or numbness in the arms or legs, speech difficulty slurred speech, short term vision loss or a drooping face muscle.

These symptoms could be a sign of a TIA or transient ischemic attack if not treated it could advance into a stroke.

In the arteries going to the arms or legsa condition called PAD or peripheral artery disease may occur causing pain in the legs particularly when walking.

In the arteries going to the kidneys may lead to developing high blood pressure or a kidney failure

How early does atherosclerosis start?

The Atherosclerosis condition can begin as early as childhood, it is one of those conditions that start slowly and over time progresses causing damage to the arterial system, there are a number of factors that contribute:
  • High cholesterol
  • High Triglycerides
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory diseases arthritis, infections, lupus.

Arteries become damaged

Inflammation causes damage to the arterial walls this allows blood cells and other dangerous substances to gather together where there is an injury in the lining of the artery (endothelium) this narrows the arteries causing a shortage of blood supply to the tissues and organs.

The danger is that some of the fatty deposits could break off and go into the bloodstream, some plaque will be stable and not move but some will be in the firm of unstable plaque that could break off and cause a heart attack or stroke.

What are the risk factors ?

Arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis happen over a period of time because of the ageing process and other factors that include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Unhealthy diet
  • A lack of regular exercise
  • Cigarette smoke or other

Plaque build up

blood vessel wall

Plaque build-up puts pressure on the blood vessels muscle cells which causes them to stretch the additional plaque is the reason the endothelial lining thickens and causes the plaque to separate from the lumen.

The arterial wall becomes stiff and the blood doesn’t flow normally, inna nutshell this is the answer to your question what is arteriosclerotic heart disease. 

Signs and symptoms

Blood supply to the brain and neck flow through the Carotid arteries, a narrowing of the Carotid artery can result in symptoms such as feeling weak, difficulty speaking, dizziness, blurred vision, numbness in the face, arms or legs, chronic headache and loss of consciousness.

The symptoms of a stroke are caused by an artery narrowing or closing going to the brain, a lack of blood supply kills the cells of the affected tissue.

Peripheral arteries

Peripheral arteries what is arteriosclerotic heart disease


 The peripheral arteries run down the back of the legs, they are small in size, plaque builds up and clots narrow the arteries, symptoms that follow are pain and numbness in the arms and legs.

Plaque will also form in the renal arteries supplying blood to the kidneys which leads a decrease in the kidney blood flow and result in chronic kidney disease.

Risk factors arteriosclerotic heart disease

There are a number of risk factors contributing to what is Arteriosclerotic heart disease


2.Trans fats in the food that we eat



5. Resistance to insulin

6.High blood pressure


8.Western diets

Atheromatous plaque

what is arteriosclerotic heart disease arterial plaque build up

Atheromatous plaque occurs where there is an accumulation of fatty substances known as plaques.

It is a slow process which develops over several years due to a complex number of cellular events which occur inside the arterial wall.

The endothelial all is under constant attack from monocytes, leucocytes or basophils, this results in inflammation which leads to a formation of atheromatous plaque within the arterial tunica intima.

This is a part of the blood vessel wall situated between the endothelium and the tunic media, this atheromatous plaque consists of fat, elastin and collagen. During this process the plaque grows, the wall thickens but doesn’t narrow until Stenosis occurs later.


Stenosis happens where there is severe narrowing,usually detectable after an angiogram is performed,sometimes detected after a stress test.

This method has been used for many years to detect severe narrowing but they don’t focus on the underlying problem of atherosclerosis disease.

In more recent times human clinical studies have shown where there was a heart attack or stroke heavy plaque build up was present.


Based on what we now know to be the main cause of heart attack or stroke, namely plaque build up in the arterial wall doesn’t it make sense to find out how to remove the plaque associated with what is Arteriosclerotic heart disease?


9 thoughts on “What is arteriosclerotic heart disease”

  1. High blood pressure and heart problems run on both sides of my family. I have kept a close watch on my heart health, especially after a scare a few years ago when I had to have a blood transfusion.

    The information you offer here is valuable. Are there simple, perhaps natural ways to avoid this even when one is genetically predisposed to these conditions?

    Gwendolyn J

  2. High blood pressure and heart problems run on both sides of my family. I have kept a close watch on my heart health, especially after a scare a few years ago when I had to have a blood transfusion.

    The information you offer here is valuable. Are there simple, perhaps natural ways to avoid this even when one is genetically predisposed to these conditions?

    Gwendolyn J

    • Hi Gwendolyn,
      The foods that we eat are really important to our health when combined with exercise and a stress free life. I wrote an article on the foods not to eat, it may be helpful.

  3. I’m not too knowledgeable regarding this, but I know a bit about kids who got Kawasaki disease (a reaction that’s triggered where the body’s blood vessels become inflamed resulting in pain all over the body, and a major source of acquired heart disease amongst children), and since this is somewhat similar I can imagine that this must be a really painful experience. One thing caught my attention though, risk factor 8. Really speaks for itself. Western diets, period.

    • Hi Faheem,

      Thanks for your comments, I haven’t heard of Kawasaki disease but it sounds horrible, western diets are mainly responsible for the rate of heart disease, I wrote an article on what are the best foods to eat to lower cholesterol. it may be helpful.

      All the best


  4. Plaque build-up in the carotid artery caused my father to pass away a few years back. I often wonder if he had symptoms he never voiced to his family. I’m quite certain it was due to his diet. He loved meat and potatoes with gravy. On top of that he would drink cold drinks like ice water, which I’m sure only made matters worse. I’m so grateful for terrific articles like this that call attention to the cause. Well done. Thank you.

    • Hi Jackie,

      I’m sorry to hear about your father passing away, sometimes there are no symptoms of carotid artery disease or heart disease, people call it the “silent killer” and we can see why.


  5. thanks for the thorough info, I have high blood pressure, and so does my husband, we are both fairly active and not obese, but I have several chronic illnesses that contribute to my heart problems. As prevalent as this type of heart problem is in this country, and in my family, I am thankful that you provided a resource about the solution. Thank you for that – blessings! 


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