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Atherosclerosis may develop when deposits of cholesterol (called plaque) accumulate at an injured area in the inner lining of an artery. As the deposits harden and narrow the arteries, blood flow to the tissues decreases. If the plaque ruptures, a clot may form, completely blocking the artery.
Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital.