Atherosclerosis, illustration

Atherosclerosis, illustration

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Credit: JEANETTE ENGQVIST/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Atherosclerosis. Computer illustration of sections through an artery, showing the development of atherosclerosis, or arteriosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD). Atherosclerosis occurs when an artery wall thickens as a result of invasion and accumulation of white blood cells and proliferation of the intimal smooth muscle cells inside the blood vessel. This creates a fibrous fatty plaque (beige) that reduces the elasticity of the artery walls. Chronically expanding lesions may cause the artery to narrow (stenosis) and become so severe that the blood supply (red discs) is blocked, leading to tissues downstream of the blockage receiving insufficient bloodflow, resulting in a shortage of oxygen (ischaemia).

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