Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease | MedStar Health

Inflammation plays a critical role in the development of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD)

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to an illness or injury. Inflammation also plays a critical role in the development of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD) which affects an estimated 26 million Americans. ASCVD is a condition where the arteries become narrowed and hardened due to the buildup of plaque. Chronic inflammation irritates the blood vessels, and it can stimulate the growth of plaque deposits and loosen existing plaques resulting in blood clots. Blood clots are the primary cause of the reported 800,000 heart attacks and 795,000 strokes in the U.S. each year. 

Symptoms of ASCVD

Plaque deposits build up over time so at the early stage of this disease you may not have any symptoms. Symptoms of moderate to severe of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion if the blockage affects blood flow to the brain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness in your legs

Causes of ASCVD

The exact cause is unknown, but damage to the inner lining of the artery may lead to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Medical conditions that cause this damage include:

  • High cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • Inflammation
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco


C-Reactive Protein test

A high sensitivity C-reactive protein test (hs-CRP) measures the levels of CRP in the blood and, along with cholesterol testing, is one more way to optimize our understanding of your heart risk.


On June 20, 2023, the FDA approved LODOCO® (Colchicine) as the first anti-inflammatory atheroprotective cardiovascular treatment demonstrated to reduce the risk of a heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, coronary revascularization, and death in adult patients with established atherosclerotic disease or with multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Additional information

Vascular and Endovascular Program

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