211. What does the term “atherosclerosis” mean (definition and origin of the term)?

Atherosclerosis is the pathologic process by which cholesterol and calcium plaque accumulates within the arterial wall. The term “athero” means porridge and “sclerosis” means scarring which is how atherosclerosis was first described on autopsy.

Atherosclerotic plaque within the coronary arteries is responsible for coronary artery disease and acute coronary syndromes. When occurring in the cerebrovascular system, stroke can occur. Atherosclerosis also contributes to peripheral arterial disease, aortic aneurysms, renal artery disease and mesenteric ischemia.