The main cause of arterial obstructions, arteriosclerosis is characterized by the formation of fat deposits called artheroma or arteriosclerotic plaques on the inner walls of arteries. The thin layer of cells that cover the inner walls of the arteries is called "endothelium"; arteriosclerotic plaque is formed when lipids (cholesterol) go through the endothelium and accumulate in the subendothelial part. White blood cells also enter and form a complex that develops and causes a clot inside the blood cells, which in turn hinders blood flow. When they grow, these plaques weaken the inner wall of the artery and this can lead it to rupture and result in an aneurysm (pouch filled with blood and clots formed by arterial splitting) and an internal haemorrhage. If a plaque fragment detaches itself, it may cause an embolism (sudden obstruction of a blood vessel).
Arteriosclerosis is a generalized process; small and large blood vessels are affected. When cerebral arteries are affected, it may lead to changes in mental activity, when renal arteries are affected, it may lead to kidney deficiencies, when leg arteries are affected, it may lead to pain when walking or a problematic healing of wounds or injuries. However, the most important and common consequence is the obstruction of the heart's arteries, which causes heart pathologies such as angina or myocardial infarction. Problems related to arteriosclerosis are found more often in men than in women, in older people than in younger people. Hereditary factors are also an important cause. You will note that these factors cannot be modified.
However, some modifiable risk factors exist, and not only can we work on them, we must do so. The most important are excess cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), tobacco use, obesity, lack of exercise and stress. The first step is generally to modify our lifestyle; but often, medications are required for people who suffer from high blood cholesterol or high blood pressure. Some severe cases will require surgery in order to dilate the obstructed arteries or to bypass this obstruction (coronary bypass).