Heart & Circulatory Health

Atherosclerosis: The Silent Killer

Written by
Dr. Vasantha K S
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on May 19, 2018 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  2 min read

Atherosclerosis: The Silent Killer

The word '-athero' means paste and '-stenosis' means harden. So, atherosclerosis is the hardening of deposits formed inside the blood vessels, gradually building up to obstruct the blood flow in the vessel, and eventually, restricting the blood flow completely.


In a healthy person, the innermost lining of the arteries is smooth and elastic. But, in persons with risk, the layer is damaged. This attracts the bad cholesterol to build up in the artery wall, forming plaques. The white blood cells (WBC) in the blood react to this by invading the area to ingest the LDL cholesterol. During this process, some of the WBC get adhered to the plaque, making it bigger and more dangerous. Thus, the lumen (space in the artery) is narrowed, until it affects blood flow to the concerned organ.

Also, a chunk of the plaque can dislodge from the site and get carried by the bloodstream to get deposited elsewhere, causing blocks there. This site can be anywhere in the body, however far from the place of its origin.


  1. High cholesterol.
  2. Smoking.
  3. Lack of physical activity.
  4. Family history.
  5. Hypertension.
  6. Diabetes.
  7. Obesity.


Unfortunately, there are no symptoms felt until there is a full-fledged block. This is why this disease is also called a silent killer. Depending on the location of the artery, symptoms can vary as follows.

  • Chest pain.
  • Chest discomfort.
  • Weakness.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Confusion.
  • Leg pain.
  • Numbness.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Loss of balance.
  • A sudden headache.
  • Difficulty in speech.
  • Trouble understanding speech.


Depending on the severity, treatment options can be one of the following as suggested by your doctor.

I. Lifestyle modification

  • Limit intake of unhealthy fats.
  • Restrict salt in the diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthy, high-fiber foods.
  • Manage weight.
  • Stop alcohol consumption.

II. Medications

Medicines that prevent plaque buildup are prescribed by the doctor, to be taken long-term. Depending on the case, drugs such as

  • statins,
  • antiplatelet drugs,
  • anticoagulants,
  • ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, etc.,

may be prescribed.

III. Surgery

More severe cases require surgical intervention in the form of

  • angioplasty,
  • stenting,
  • bypass surgery.

Atherosclerosis is more common than we think. It stays silent in most of us. But, once symptoms appear, it is already too late. It is a dangerous condition that can be prevented with healthy habits. Start now, and do what you can to keep your heart healthy.

For information consult a coronary artery disease specialist --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/cardiologist/coronary-artery-disease


This is a sponsored video. icliniq or icliniq doctors do not endorse the content/ad in the video.

Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  2 min read




Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers

Heart Attack Explained

Article Overview: This article describes heart attack in simple language, which can be easily understood by common people. Read Article

Our heart works as a pump. As water pump pulls water from back pipes and pushes it to forward pipes, so is the function of our living pump. It receives blood from the body and pumps it forward to the body. Blood contains oxygen and nutrients that our body metabolizes to generate energy, which is re...  Read Article

Is heart attack genetic?

Query: Hi doctor, I am a 30 year old female. My father who is 65 years old has suffered from two very severe heart attacks, one recently and another two years back. His father and brother both died in their 50s from heart attacks. Is heart attack genetic? Should my son and I get tested?  Read Full »

Heart Healthy Foods

Article Overview: There are millions of people across the globe who suffer from various heart ailments like atherosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, and stroke. According to the American Public Health Association, a majority of the heart ailments are caused due to a faulty diet and lifestyle pattern owing to today’s sedentary lifestyle. People are so busy and stressful these days that they do not get enough time to exercise and even prepare a healthy meal and end up consuming junk bought from outside which is very palatable and sadly hazardous to health too. Read Article

Here are some of the reasons listed for the causes of various heart diseases. Consumption of Foods High in Bad Cholesterol Bad cholesterol is one which is rich in saturated fats and contains trans fat. Sources of trans fat include butter, ghee, margarine, lard, milk solids, etc. Trans fat is found...  Read Article

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Heart Attack or Control Cholesterol Level?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.
Enter Your Health Query
You can upload files and images in the next step.



Disclaimer: All health articles published on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek the advice from your physician or other qualified health-care providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website.