Arteriosclerosis occurs when the arteries become thick and stiff. Healthy arteries are flexible and elastic, but over time, the walls in your arteries can harden, sometimes restricting blood flow to your organs and tissues.
Arteriosclerosis may start with damage or injury to the inner layer of an artery. The damage may be caused by:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides, a type of fat (lipid) in your blood
- Smoking and other sources of tobacco
- Insulin resistance, obesity or diabetes
- Inflammation from diseases, such as arthritis, lupus or infections, or inflammation of unknown cause
It's a slow, progressive process that may begin as early as childhood.