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Because atherosclerosis may be the result of the artery's response to cholesterol, it makes sense to reduce the intake of cholesterol. Two types of cholesterol are found in foods: cholesterol that contains high density lipoprotein (the HDLs) and cholesterol that contains low density lipoprotein (the LDLs). Researchers have found that LDL cholesterol is the culprit in atherosclerosis.

To keep the arteries healthy, individuals should eat no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day. Cholesterol is found only in animal products; plant foods contain no cholesterol. Since many foods that are high in fat are also high in cholesterol, limiting fat intake can help reduce cholesterol levels. Knowing which foods are high in cholesterol and avoiding these foods (or limiting these foods) can also lower cholesterol. People should have their blood cholesterol levels checked periodically, particularly if there is a family history of arteriosclerosis. Those with hypercholesteremia or a history of heart disease may want to try a stricter diet that eliminates all fats and cholesterol. Before embarking on any major dietary change, however, consult your physician.

See also Circulatory system.



Acierno, Louis J. The History of Cardiology. New York: Parthenon Publishing Group, 1994.

Filer, Lloyd J. Jr., Ronald M. Lauer, and Russell L. Leupker, eds. Prevention of Atherosclerosis and Hypertension Beginning in Youth. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 1994.

Fuster, Valentin, ed. Progression-Regression of Atherogenesis: Molecular, Cellular, and Clinical Bases. Dallas: American Heart Association, 1992.

Yeagle, Philip. Understanding Your Cholesterol. San Diego: Academic Press, 1991.


Ross, Russell. "The Pathenogenesis of Atherosclerosis: A Perspective for the 1990s." Nature 362 (April 29, 1993): 801+.

Tunis, Sean R., et al. "The Use of Angioplasty, Bypass Surgery, and Amputation in the Treatment of Peripheral Vascular Diseases." New England Journal of Medicine 325, no. 8 (August 22, 1991): 556.

"Warding Off Artherosclerosis." The Lancet v361, i9365 (April 12, 2003).

Kathleen Scogna


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—Warning pain that signals the progressive worsening of atherosclerosis in heart arteries.


—A technique in which a catheter is introduced into an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis in order to widen the artery.


—Hardening and thickening of artery walls.


—Abnormal narrowing of the arteries of the body that generally originates from the buildup of fatty plaque on the artery wall.


—A fat-like substance that contains lipids; found in animal products.


—A piece of an arteriosclerotic plaque that breaks off and lodges in a distant artery.

Fatty streak

—The first stage in atherosclerosis; consists of lipid, macrophages, and immune cells.

Foam cell

—A macrophage that has ingested lipid.


—A genetic condition in which the body accumulates high levels of cholesterol.


—A molecule that is a component of fats and cholesterol.


—Special white blood cells that ingest foreign substances or materials such as lipids.


—A mass of lipid, fibrous tissue, dead cells, and platelets that collects within the artery; plaques can harden and become so large that they block the flow of blood through the artery.


—Special component of blood that contributes to clot formation.

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