A common cause of heart attacks and strokes, arteriosclerosis causes a fatty substance to accumulate inside your arteries. Called plaque, the fatty substance hardens and narrows the arteries, which limits the amount of oxygenated blood that can get to your heart and the rest of your body. When blood is restricted, it can lead to chest pain, a heart attack and pain or numbness in the legs, arms and pelvis, a condition called peripheral arterial disease. The plaque can also rupture and lead to bleeding in the brain, which is medically known as a stroke. Doctors believe that the cells that line our arteries become damaged by high blood pressure, smoking or high cholesterol, which allows plaque to build up in the blood vessel. A family history of heart disease also increases your risk to develop this disease.