Outlook and Prevention

What to expect in the long term

With treatment, you may see improvement in your health, but this may take time. The success of your treatment will depend on the severity of your condition, how promptly it was treated, and whether other organs were affected.

Hardening of the arteries cannot be reversed, but treating the underlying cause and making healthy lifestyle and dietary changes can help slow down the process or prevent it from getting worse.

You should work closely with your doctor to make the appropriate lifestyle changes. You’ll also need to take the proper medications to control your condition and avoid complications.

The complications of atherosclerosis include:

  • heart failure
  • heart disease
  • heart attack
  • abnormal heart rhythm
  • stroke
  • peripheral artery disease, which reduces blood flow to your arms and legs
  • kidney failure
  • death

Nonmedical treatment and prevention

Lifestyle changes can help to prevent as well as treat atherosclerosis. Unless your atherosclerosis is severe, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes as the first line of treatment.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • eating a healthy diet that’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • avoiding fatty foods
  • adding fish to your diet twice per week
  • exercising for 30 to 60 minutes per day, six days per week
  • quitting smoking if you’re a smoker
  • losing weight if you’re overweight or obese
  • managing stress
  • treating conditions associated with atherosclerosis, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 2 Feb 2018
Medical Author: Dr. med. Diana Hysi