Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries — the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body.  These deposits can cause blockages in the walls of arteries; as the blockages get bigger, the pathway for blood gets narrower. This makes it more difficult for blood to travel through the artery to the tissues of the body.

Atherosclerosis is not limited to the arteries in the heart; it can occur in arteries anywhere in your body. When deposits occur in the legs for example, the condition is called peripheral vascular disease.