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Gwinnett Medical Center

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis, sometimes called “hardening of the arteries”, occurs over time. Arteries supply oxygen and nutrition from the heart to all parts of the body. Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of arteries. It is caused by a slow buildup of fatty deposits and cholesterol that sticks to the inside walls of the arteries. These areas are called plaques. Plaques narrow the opening in the artery and, as a result, blood flow is hampered. Small clots can form and plug the vessel. This can partially or completely block the flow of blood through the artery. When this happens, the affected organ cannot get enough oxygen and nutrients. This results in either death or severe damage to the organ’s cells.

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