Atherosclerosis: A process of progressive thickening and hardening of the walls of medium-sized and large arteries as a result of fat deposits on their inner lining.
Risk factors for atherosclerosis include high levels of "bad" cholesterol, high blood pressure (hypertension), smoking, diabetes and a genetic family history of atherosclerotic disease.
Atherosclerosis is responsible for much coronary artery disease (angina and
heart attacks) and many strokes.
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016