Atherosclerosis takes place over a lifetime. Complications from atherosclerosis tend to happen later in life. But the process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries starts early, progressing over decades.
Developing some atherosclerosis is often unavoidable. It's the result of aging and our own genetic tendencies. A much larger part, though, is determined by our behavior and lifestyle choices as we move through life.
How old are your arteries? Are they the ones you had in college? Or are...
Calcium-channel blocker -- A drug that lowers blood pressure and may slow heart rate to control chest pain. The drug works by blocking the uptake of calcium in the cells.
Cardiac Catheterization (angiogram) -- A test used to diagnose heart disease. During the procedure a catheter is inserted into an artery, usually in the leg, wrist, or arm, and contrast dye is injected into the arteries and heart. X-rays of the arteries and heart are taken.
Catheter -- A slender, hollow, flexible tube.
Coronary artery disease -- A buildup of fatty material in the wall of the coronary artery that causes narrowing of the artery.
Dyspnea -- Shortness of breath.
Electrocardiogram(ECG, EKG) -- The EKG records on graph paper the electrical activity of the heart detected through small electrode patches attached to the skin.
Heart attack (myocardial infarction) -- Permanent damage to the heart muscle caused by a lack of blood supply to the heart for an extended time period. The severity of damage varies from mild to severe.
Heart-lung (cardiopulmonary) bypass machine -- A machine that oxygenates the blood and circulates it throughout the body during heart bypass surgery.
Heart surgery -- Heart surgery is any surgery that involves the heart or heart valves.
Ischemia-- Condition in which not enough oxygen-rich blood is supplied to the heart muscle to meet the heart's needs.
Off-pump heart surgery -- Heart surgery done without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass machine.
Plaque -- Deposits of fats, inflammatory cells, proteins, and calcium along the lining of arteries, caused by atherosclerosis. The plaque builds up and narrows the artery.