A general interest article on the aging of blood vessels from the Wall Street Journal: "Over time, however, the effects of high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and tobacco smoke provide a toxic milieu that injures the endothelium. That causes an inflammatory response intended to heal the artery wall, but that in the face of continuous injury only makes things worse. The progressive result is an accumulation of fatty deposits called plaque that can rupture or have their caps shear off, causing clots that lead to heart attacks. In addition, artery walls can stiffen, transforming compliant arteries into conduits like 'Styrofoam tubes' [that] increase both blood pressure and the workload on the heart. ... Both high body mass, particularly belly fat that accounts for a person's bulging waist line, and diabetes have a pernicious effect on the health of adult blood vessels. ... Even if your weight is under control, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, sedentary living and stress all are culprits that can accelerate vascular age."