Atheroma plaque. Coloured doppler ultrasound scan of an atheroma plaque (light blue) on the inner wall of one of the carotid arteries. Blood in the artery is red. Atheroma is a fatty substance that deposits on the inner walls of arteries in atherosclerosis. This disease is usually caused by excess cholesterol in the diet, although smoking and inactivity are also risk factors. The plaques of atheroma narrow the arteries, raising blood pressure. This places more strain on the heart, and can lead to heart disease. It also increases the chances of a thrombus (abnormal clot) forming, which can also lead to a heart attack or stroke.
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