Arteriosclerosis is a condition that occurs when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff — sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues. Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic, but over time, the walls in your arteries can harden, a condition commonly called hardening of the arteries.
Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on your artery walls. This buildup is called plaque. The plaque can cause your arteries to narrow, blocking blood flow. The plaque can also burst, leading to a blood clot.
Although atherosclerosis is often considered a heart problem, it can affect arteries anywhere in your body. Atherosclerosis can be treated. Healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent atherosclerosis.