The walls of a healthy artery are smooth and elastic, allowing blood to flow freely. But sometimes a substance known as plaque builds up inside the artery. This process is called atherosclerosis.
When it occurs, the walls of the artery thicken, grow rough, and become stiff, narrowing the artery.
Plaque deposits develop when there are high levels of cholesterol in the blood, a problem that runs in some families. Lack of exercise; a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet; smoking; and untreated high blood pressure or diabetes also increases your chance of developing narrowed arteries.
When the disease is more advanced, it can cause serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.
The best treatment for atherosclerosis is a healthy diet combined with regular exercise and proper medication.