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Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque (mainly cholesterol deposits) within the arteries. This thickening of the artery walls decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to vital body organs and extremities, which can lead to severe cardiovascular diseases, such as:
Cardiovascular specialists at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) Heart & Vascular Center offer comprehensive, compassionate and innovative inpatient and outpatient services to adults with conditions related to atherosclerosis. We offer a broad range of diagnostics and cutting-edge medical, interventional and surgical therapies, including coronary angioplasty and stenting, coronary artery bypass grafting surgery, transmyocardial revascularization and carotid endarterectomy.
Risk factors that are associated with atherosclerosis include:
Atherosclerosis often does not display any symptoms until an artery has become severely narrowed or blocked. When symptoms are apparent, they depend on the artery affected:
Some of these symptoms are common to many medical conditions and may not indicate atherosclerosis. If you experience any of these symptoms or have concerns, consult your doctor.
At BWH, our atherosclerosis specialists provide expert evaluation and diagnosis with the aid of the latest in advanced imaging technologies. In order to diagnose and determine treatment for atherosclerosis, a complete medical history, a thorough physical exam, and one or more of the special diagnostic tests below will be provided.
Our cardiovascular specialists develop individualized treatment plans for patients based on:
Treatment for atherosclerosis, ranging from lifestyle changes to surgery, may include:
The BWH Heart & Vascular Center is located in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, across the street from BWH’s main 75 Francis Street entrance. The Heart & Vascular Center brings together the full range of services in one location, fostering seamless and coordinated care for all cardiovascular patients.
If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled for a visit to the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation or the Watkins Clinic for pre-operative information and tests.
The day of surgery, you care will be provided by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in surgery for patients with atherosclerosis. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by an experienced surgical and nursing staff.
During your surgery, family and friends can wait in the Shapiro Family Center. Staff members will provide surgery updates and caregivers who leave the hospital will be contacted by cell phone.
Patients benefit from the teamwork of medical cardiologists, interventional cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, vascular surgeons, endovascular surgeons, cardiovascular imaging experts and radiologists, and anesthesiologists, all expert in atherosclerosis. They work alongside nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, dietitians and social workers to achieve outstanding outcomes for our patients.
Learn more about atherosclerosis in our health library
Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center where patients and families can access computers and knowledgeable staff.
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