Risk Factors. There are numerous factors that predispose a person to the development of atherosclerosis. It can be genetic, because conditions like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity can be inherited, putting an individual at a higher risk of developing the disease. Obesity, whether it has an inherited factor or not, is a huge risk factor of atherosclerosis. This is due to the poor diet and sedentary lifestyle of those who are obese, leading to hypertension and high cholesterol levels. Obesity often times leads to diabetes, and diabetes itself is also an increased risk factor for developing atherosclerosis. Individuals who smoke regularly or use other types of tobacco products also are at a heightened risk of developing atherosclerosis. Because it generally takes time for plaque buildup to occur, those who are older then the age of 50 are at an increased risk of developing atherosclerosis.