Scottish scientists have found the causes of serious conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
The researchers are investigating the role of "smooth" muscles, which are found inside organs such as the stomach and bladder.
The team from the University of Glasgow and University of Strathclyde has developed a new technique to study these muscles to find out what goes wrong to cause diseases including heart problems and stroke.
Smooth muscles play a major part in controlling blood flow, blood pressure and the digestion of food.
They are found in the walls of hollow organs like the intestines and stomach and work automatically without people being aware of them. Smooth muscles are involved in many "housekeeping" functions such as pushing food through the body.
For all of this to operate properly, the muscles must act in a coordinated way, but it is unclear how they do this. Scientists do know, however, that calcium plays a part in this complex process.
The researchers in Glasgow have now developed a new system for looking at calcium in targeted areas of blood cells.
"The malfunction of smooth muscle is a cause of many debilitating diseases and conditions and problems with controlling calcium are underlying in conditions like hypertension," the Scotsman quoted Professor John McCarron, from the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, as saying.
"We have to find out how and why it happens if we are to tackle these illnesses."
McCarron and Dr Richard Hartley, from the University of Glasgow, are using an advanced combination of targeted chemicals and microscopes to study the action of the calcium.
The chemicals have been developed to show what is happening in very specific parts of the cell, so changes in calcium can be looked at in detail through the microscope.
"By doing this we are hoping to identify what is going wrong in some cases," McCarron added.