Atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries” can form in any of the arteries of your body. Arteries are blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the cells of the body. Normally, the walls of your hollow, tube-shaped arteries are smooth and elastic.
Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque in the wall of an artery. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, fat, and calcium. Over time plaque narrows your arteries and potentially closes off blood flow. Plaque can also become inflamed and rupture. If a plaque ruptures, a clot will form that can stop the flow of blood. The arteries most often affected include the carotid (neck) arteries, the renal (kidney) arteries, the abdominal aorta, and the arteries of the legs (peripheral artery disease).