Medical research

No bones about it, this protein slows down fracture-healing

Broken bones are a bigger deal the older you are: even after they've healed, the bones of older people are weaker and more likely to re-fracture. And since more than 6 million Americans break a bone each year, figuring out ...

Cardiology

Greater left ventricular mass increases risk of heart failure

Elevated left ventricular mass, known as left-ventricular hypertrophy, is a stronger predictor of coronary artery disease-related death and heart failure than coronary artery calcium score, according to a new study published ...

Immunology

Remodeling unhealthful gut microbiomes to fight disease

You are what you eat—right down to the microbiome living in your gut. Diet can affect which microbes are in the intestinal tract, and research has shown that harmful gut microbiome changes can lead to illnesses such as ...

Genetics

Fat-absorbing XX chromosomes raise heart disease risk in women

New research at the University of Kentucky has confirmed that the presence of XX sex chromosomes increases the amount of fat circulating in the blood, which leads to narrowing of the arteries and ultimately a higher risk ...

Medical research

Study offers promising approach to reducing plaque in arteries

In a new Yale-led study, investigators have revealed previously unknown factors that contribute to the hardening of arteries and plaque growth, which cause heart disease. Their insight is the basis for a promising therapeutic ...

Overweight & Obesity

Researcher develops method to prevent, even reverse obesity

Obesity is a growing problem in the United States. According to the latest estimates from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than one-third of American adults are obese, and that rate has been rising steadily for ...

Genetics

How natural genetic differences can affect heart health

The biggest risks for cardiovascular disease are smoking and poor diet. However, different people are more susceptible to heart disease based on very slight differences in their genes, called variants. While there have been ...

Cardiology

It is never too late to start statins for clogged leg arteries

Statins are linked with reduced mortality in patients with peripheral arterial disease, even when started late after diagnosis, reports a study presented today at ESC Congress 2019 together with the World Congress of Cardiology. ...

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Atherosclerosis (also known as arteriosclerotic vascular disease or ASVD) is a condition in which an artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol. It is a syndrome affecting arterial blood vessels, a chronic inflammatory response in the walls of arteries, caused largely by the accumulation of macrophage white blood cells and promoted by low-density lipoproteins (plasma proteins that carry cholesterol and triglycerides) without adequate removal of fats and cholesterol from the macrophages by functional high density lipoproteins (HDL), (see apoA-1 Milano). It is commonly referred to as a hardening or furring of the arteries. It is caused by the formation of multiple plaques within the arteries.

The atheromatous plaque is divided into three distinct components:

The following terms are similar, yet distinct, in both spelling and meaning, and can be easily confused: arteriosclerosis, arteriolosclerosis, and atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a general term describing any hardening (and loss of elasticity) of medium or large arteries (from the Greek arteria, meaning artery, and sclerosis, meaning hardening); arteriolosclerosis is any hardening (and loss of elasticity) of arterioles (small arteries); atherosclerosis is a hardening of an artery specifically due to an atheromatous plaque. The term atherogenic is used for substances or processes that cause atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease that remains asymptomatic for decades. Atherosclerotic lesions, or atherosclerotic plaques are separated into two broad categories: Stable and unstable (also called vulnerable). The pathobiology of atherosclerotic lesions is very complicated but generally, stable atherosclerotic plaques, which tend to be asymptomatic, are rich in extracellular matrix and smooth muscle cells, while, unstable plaques are rich in macrophages and foam cells and the extracellular matrix separating the lesion from the arterial lumen (also known as the fibrous cap) is usually weak and prone to rupture. Ruptures of the fibrous cap expose thrombogenic material, such as collagen to the circulation and eventually induce thrombus formation in the lumen. Upon formation, intraluminal thrombi can occlude arteries outright (i.e. coronary occlusion), but more often they detach, move into the circulation and eventually occlude smaller downstream branches causing thromboembolism (i.e. Stroke is often caused by thrombus formation in the carotid arteries). Apart from thromboembolism, chronically expanding atherosclerotic lesions can cause complete closure of the lumen. Interestingly, chronically expanding lesions are often asymptomatic until lumen stenosis is so severe that blood supply to downstream tissue(s) is insufficient resulting in ischemia.

These complications of advanced atherosclerosis are chronic, slowly progressive and cumulative. Most commonly, soft plaque suddenly ruptures (see vulnerable plaque), causing the formation of a thrombus that will rapidly slow or stop blood flow, leading to death of the tissues fed by the artery in approximately 5 minutes. This catastrophic event is called an infarction. One of the most common recognized scenarios is called coronary thrombosis of a coronary artery, causing myocardial infarction (a heart attack). The same process in an artery to the brain is commonly called stroke. Another common scenario in very advanced disease is claudication from insufficient blood supply to the legs, typically caused by a combination of both stenosis and aneurysmal segments narrowed with clots.

Atherosclerosis can occur body-wide, in the arteries to the brain, intestines, kidneys, legs, etc. with many infarctions involving only very small amounts of tissue. These are termed "clinically silent" because the person having the infarction does not notice the problem and does not seek medical help, or when they do, physicians do not recognize what has happened.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA