What is atherosclerosis and how can it be prevented?

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Atherosclerosis is a medical term that means “hardening of the arteries.” It is the cause of heart disease, stroke, renal artery disease and peripheral artery disease (PAD). During the process of atherosclerosis, plaque builds up on the inside walls of arteries, making them narrow and stiff. This causes blood flow to be restricted, and starves the organs of the blood they need to function. Atherosclerosis starts very early in life and its progression can be accelerated by smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, diabetes and hypertension.