The circulatory system is made up of arteries and veins which carry blood to and from all your organs and tissues. The arteries carry the fresh oxygenated blood from the heart and the veins carry blood back to the heart and lungs.
Healthy arteries have a smooth lining. However, as people age they may develop a buildup of fat, cholesterol and calcium in the wall of the artery. This is called plaque and the condition is called Atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries”. The lining becomes irregular and ultimately the artery can block off. Also, little pieces of this abnormal fatty build up can break loose and get carried down the artery to lodge elsewhere in the system causing a blockage at that site also.
When it affects the heart arteries (coronary arteries) it can lead to angina or heart attack. When it affects the arteries to the brain it can cause TIA or stroke. When it affects the arteries of the leg, it may cause claudication or gangrene.
Certain risk factors will increase the risk of atherosclerosis: