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Conditions

Symptoms

Early stages of plaque accumulation, or atherosclerosis, usually have no symptoms. But as the plaque grows larger, it can trigger vessel spasms or “pop” like a pimple causing the sudden formation of a blood clot in the vessel. When this happens, blood supply to organs or tissues can be suddenly blocked. This can cause serious problems. In coronary (heart) arteries, it can cause angina (chest pain), a heart attack, or sudden death. In carotid (neck) arteries, it can cause a stroke. In the brain, it can contribute to transient ischemic attacks or stroke. In leg or arm vessels, it can cause peripheral arterial disease. In the aorta, it can cause aneurysms; and in the renal arteries, it can cause kidney damage. The goal is to detect atherosclerotic plaque early and treat it aggressively.