SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Light micrograph of a cross-section through an atheroma plaque in a human coronary artery. The original wall of the artery is the pale band running from left to right. It has been bent into a saucer shape by the plaque (top). The plaque itself is composed of the fatty material cholesterol (stained red) and fibrous connective tissue (pale areas). In addition to physically narrowing & blocking the arteries, atheroma plaques may provoke thrombus (clot) formation, leading to a myocardial infarction or heart attack. Atherosclerosis is common in affluent societies; diets rich in animal fats, smoking and lack of exercise are all contributing factors.
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