Health Conditions - For Everyone

Causes of Atherosclerosis
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Causes of atherosclerosis

The cause of atherosclerosis is not known, but scientists believe it can start in childhood to young adulthood, where the walls of the arteries become damaged.

When the artery wall is damaged, the body sends platelets, which are red blood cells that clump together at any injury point in the body to repair the damage. Inflammation is part of the healing process with the platelets. If the damage to the artery wall continues, it may then form scar tissue and over time, cholesterol and other fatty waste substances can accumulate at the scar tissue and harden, which may narrow the artery and cause it to have improper blood flow.

If any part of the fatty deposits in the artery break off or rupture, they can enter the blood stream and cause a blood clot which can damage the heart (heart attack) or the brain (stroke). A blood clot may not be so severe, but it can still partially or totally block blood flow to other organs and cause adverse health effects.

Some of the theories proposed about what can cause the damage to the artery walls which can then lead to atherosclerosis are:


The health risks of diabetes are many, including the possible damage to the artery walls, which can lead to atherosclerosis.


Research suggests that some people may just be born with slightly defective arteries, which may be more prone to being damaged in some way without having any other risk factors present.

High homocysteine levels

Recent research suggests that having high levels of the amino acid by-produce homocysteine, may increase the risk for developing all forms of heart disease, including atherosclerosis.



Some recent research suggests that chronic inflammation in the arteries, may cause damage to the arteries.

Nutritional deficiencies

Some research suggests that nutritional deficiencies of the antioxidant nutrients may play a part in causing some of the damage to the artery walls. This is because the antioxidants may prevent some of the oxidative damage to the artery walls and if they are in deficit, the damage may occur more severely.

Poor lifestyle and diet choices

A diet that consists mainly of processed foods, that are high in saturated fats, sugar and calories not only cause weight gain, but it also causes high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, which may be part of the reason that the artery walls get damaged and get clogged.

The poor diet choices, in combination with an inactive lifestyle greatly increase the health risks associated with high blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which may cause the damage to the artery walls.

Smoking cigarettes, another poor lifestyle choice can significantly increase risk damage to the artery walls, especially in combination with poor dietary choices and an inactive lifestyle.


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  Last reviewed: 27 October 2007 || Last updated: 12 March 2009


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NOTE: Mega doses of any type of vitamin, mineral, amino acid or herbal supplement cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of complementary supplements.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.


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