Atherosclerosis is the process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries due to plaque buildup in the inner lining of arteries. It's the key cause of heart attacks and strokes and the No. 1 killer in the U.S.
When it comes to developing health risks from atherosclerosis, some people are at higher risk than others. But because atherosclerosis is silent until it's advanced, estimating one's health risk takes some educated guesswork.
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These conditions are considered evidence of atherosclerosis. People with diabetes are also at high risk of developing the health risks associated with atherosclerosis. Guidelines for treating cholesterol in people with diabetes assume that atherosclerosis is already present.
Next, tally your risk factors for atherosclerosis:
Based on your Framingham risk, you'll fit in one of three categories:
Low risk: Less than a 10% risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. No further testing or treatment is needed, if you have no symptoms. You should reduce your risk even further with diet, exercise, blood pressure control, and smoking abstinence.