A new scientific breakthrough could help doctors in their fight against cardiovascular disease.
Researchers at the University of Missouri used advanced 3-D microscopic imaging technology to examine the changes that occur in proteins when the arteries become stiffer.
Gerald Meininger, director of the educational establishment's Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, explained that much of the scientific knowledge that doctors use to treat the condition is based on old practices.
Dr Meininger and his team observed how the elastin concentrations in artery walls are replaced by collagen as a person ages, resulting in this stiffening effect.
"Elastin production peaks at a very young age and declines throughout life. Molecular biologists are trying to determine how to turn elastin production back on in the correct places," added Michael Hill, another member of the team.
Cardiovascular disease is the UK's biggest killer and a leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, states the British Heart Foundation.