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Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of arteries. It is usually caused by a gradual build up over time of fat and cholesterol in the arteries. Poor eating habits combined with lack of exercise and being overweight or obese will increase a person’s chance of developing this disease. Atherosclerosis can sometimes be reversed when a person makes healthy lifestyle changes, as long as it has not become too severe of a problem within your body.
Often atherosclerosis in the neck can cause a stroke in the brain. If this occurs in a coronary artery, a heart attack may result.
There are many other risk factors that can contribute to atherosclerosis, in addition to being overweight, including smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being male, and stress. (10)
When the aorta, the biggest artery of the body, is atherosclerotic it may become calcified and hardened leaving it at risk of breaking open into the chest cavity –producing a large aneurysm. If this happens, bleeding can be profuse and very painful and prompt medical attention must be obtained.