RICHARD KIRBY, DAVID SPEARS LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RICHARD KIRBY, DAVID SPEARS LTD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Macrophotograph of a transverse section of the human aorta showing the interior partially obstructed by formations of fatty atheroma plaques, visible at left and right. Hardening & thickening of the arterial walls (atherosclerosis) is a major cause of illness & death in affluent societies, where cigarette smoking, high animal fat consumption and lack of exercise are contributing factors. Atherosclerosis affects the coronary arteries which supply the heart, where, in addition to physically blocking the artery, atheroma plaques may provoke haemorrhage & thrombus (clot) formation.
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