Atherosclerosis is not high cholesterol. In the old days it was also called “hardening of the arteries” and that is a good description of one of the symptoms. It's a chronic disease (a “syndrome”) that typically lasts until the person dies – sometimes decades after onset. The circulatory system has been inflamed. If you could see if, it would look a different color than health arteries. The arterial skeleton is degraded by the body's enzymes and the elastin and collagen are attacked, altering their viability.
You are more likely to get atherosclerosis if
- you are old
- you have high blood pressure
- you have diabetes
- you smoke
- your cholesterol level is high
Any artery can be affected by atherosclerosis. If the arteries in and around the heart get it, the result is coronary heart disease. If the arteries that deliver blood to the head - the carotid arteries - get atherosclerosis, the result is carotid artery disease, which is a major cause of stroke.
If atherosclerosis affects the renal arteries the result can be chronic kidney disease. If atherosclerosis affects the major arteries in the lower body (outside the head and heart), it is called peripheral arterial disease.
Apolipoprotein help fats become soluble so they can be transported around the body. They are nature's solution to the problem that oil and water don't mix. One apolipoprotein-type, called ApoE, is important in the absorption of cholesterol, reverse cholesterol transport, and inhibiting the accumulation of hydrophobic proteins.
Statins in vivo reduce oxidative modification of LDL. This oxidation is suspected to play a role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis The statins may also slow white blood cells' tendency to stick to the walls of blood vessels, and they might (this is more speculative) increase the formation of blood vessels. And the reduction in blood vessel inflammation statins are thought to produce contributes to a lower risk of atherosclerosis. And when blood lipid levels are lowered (from any means) atherosclerotic lesions can regress.