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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

Atherosclerosis (blocked arteries)

Atherosclerosis is a thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque. Atherosclerosis increases your risk for myocardial infarction (heart attack), peripheral artery disease, and stroke. Learn about the care you can receive at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

Atherosclerosis is a slow, progressive disease that may start as early as childhood. However, the disease has the potential to progress rapidly and affects the entire vascular (circulatory) system.

High cholesterol contributes to the forming of atherosclerotic plaques. When these plaques get large enough, they can prevent blood from reaching your heart muscle. If the plaque ruptures and a clot forms on it, no blood can get downstream to the heart muscle, causing a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Plaque also can reduce blood flow to your extremities (legs and arms), causing peripheral arterial disease (PAD). If plaque builds in the carotid arteries, located in the neck (carotid artery disease), it can restrict or block blood flow to the brain and is a risk factor for stroke.

Treatment for atherosclerosis

If you have atherosclerosis, you’ll get the care you need at Lehigh Valley Heart Institute. Atherosclerosis treatment includes the modification of risk factors. We’ll help you quit smoking, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, manage diabetes, exercise and eat right. Medication also is used to treat atherosclerosis.

Heart attack care

If you suffer a heart attack caused by blocked arteries, Lehigh Valley Heart Institute consistently ranks among the nation’s leaders in heart attack survival. We’re also the only center in the region with the expertise to treat a very serious heart attack, or STEMI.

Through our rapid heart attack care program, MI Alert for Heart Attacks, we partner with local emergency responders to quickly diagnose heart attacks and prepare for your treatment as you’re transported to our hospital. Thanks to advances like MI Alert, the Heart Institute consistently ranks among the best in the nation for heart attack survival rates.

After a heart attack, you can work with heart and exercise specialists in our cardiac rehabilitation program to improve your heart health.

Peripheral artery disease care

If you are diagnosed with peripheral artery disease, vascular specialists with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence and interventional cardiologists with Lehigh Valley Heart Institute can help you. Learn more about peripheral artery disease.

Carotid artery disease care

Atherosclerosis can affect your carotid arteries too. This can increase your risk for stroke. If you are diagnosed with carotid artery disease, vascular specialists with Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence and interventional cardiologists with Lehigh Valley Heart Institute can help you. Learn more about carotid artery disease.

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