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Sample Essay

The initiation point of atherosclerosis is usually the deposition of fat in blood vessels. Usually, fatty steaks on the vessel lumen appear. These have been seen in children as young as 9 year old. Fatty streaks are lipids are deposited under the damaged endothelium and which have been ingested by macrophages.

The macrophages are now called foam cells. Gradual and ongoing deposition of foam cells leads to the formation of yellow white fibrous plaques. These plaques either grow large in size and occlude the lumen of arteries completely causing ischemia to the organ or can dislodge and rupture from its place causing platelet aggregation and thrombus at the site, and form emboli of the plaque which was dislodged with the potential to get stuck in the narrow arteries (Schoen, F.J. 2004).  The arteries most frequently affected are the coronary arteries, carotid arteries and the aorta, where non laminar or turbulent blood flow is present.

The process of atherosclerosis and plaque formation is a dynamic, progressive and ongoing process, which can start at an early age given that the risk factors for the disease are present. These include family history, male gender, and high blood levels of LDLs, sedentary life style, obesity, cigarette smoking, Diabetes mellitus, infection and chronic inflammation infection (The Merck Manual, 2005). And (Mallika V, 2007)

It has been seen that intimal-medial wall thickness (IMT) is particularly relevant, when looking at complications of atherosclerosis. It has been seen that IMT is a strong predictor of ischemic attacks. Studies of amongst families, siblings etc have shown that there is a hereditary link to IMT which in turn plays a role in determining the risk of atherosclerosis related complications (Humphries SE, 2004).

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