What is VULNERABLE PLAQUE? What does VULNERABLE PLAQUE mean? VULNERABLE PLAQUE meaning
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What is VULNERABLE PLAQUE? What does VULNERABLE PLAQUE mean? VULNERABLE PLAQUE meaning - VULNERABLE PLAQUE definition - VULNERABLE PLAQUE explanation.
Source: Wikipedia.org article, adapted under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/ license.
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A vulnerable plaque is a kind of atheromatous plaque — a collection of white blood cells (primarily macrophages) and lipids (including cholesterol) in the wall of an artery — that is particularly unstable and prone to produce sudden major problems such as a heart attack or stroke.
The defining characteristics of a vulnerable plaque include but are not limited to: a thin fibrous cap, large lipid-rich necrotic core, increased plaque inflammation, positive vascular remodeling, increased vasa-vasorum neovascularization, and intra-plaque hemorrhage. These characteristics together with the usual hemodynamic pulsating expansion during systole and elastic recoil contraction during diastole contribute to a high mechanical stress zone on the fibrous cap of the atheroma, making it prone to rupture. Increased hemodynamic stress, e.g. increased blood pressure, especially pulse pressure (systolic blood pressure vs. diastolic blood pressure difference), correlates with increased rates of major cardiovascular events associated with exercise, especially exercise beyond levels the individual does routinely. This video , examining autopsy specimens from an actual heart attack resulting in sudden death, shows the sequence. These videos, and , illustrate the sequence of events and why, though the underlying process develops over decades, the symptoms are usually of sudden onset.
Generally an atheroma becomes vulnerable if it grows more rapidly and has a thin cover separating it from the bloodstream inside the arterial lumen. Tearing of the cover is called plaque rupture.
Repeated atheroma rupture and healing is one of the mechanisms, perhaps the dominant one, that creates artery stenosis.
While a single ruptured plaque can be identified during autopsy as the cause of a coronary event, there is currently no way to identify a culprit lesion before it ruptures.
Because artery walls typically enlarge in response to enlarging plaques, these plaques do not usually produce much stenosis of the artery lumen. Therefore, they are not detected by cardiac stress tests or angiography, the tests most commonly performed clinically with the goal of predicting susceptibility to future heart attack. In contrast to conventional angiography, cardiac CT angiography does enable visualization of the vessel wall as well as plaque composition. Some of the CT derived plaque characteristics can help predict for acute coronary syndrome. In addition, because these lesions do not produce significant stenoses, they are typically not considered "critical" and/or interventionable by interventional cardiologists, even though research indicates that they are the more important lesions for producing heart attacks.
The tests most commonly performed clinically with the goal of testing susceptibility to future heart attack include several medical research efforts, starting in the early to mid-1990s, using intravascular ultrasound (IVUS), thermography, near-infrared spectroscopy, careful clinical follow-up, and other methods, to predict these lesions and the individuals most prone to future heart attacks. These efforts remain largely research with no useful clinical methods to date (2006).
Another approach to detecting and understanding plaque behavior, used in research and by a few clinicians, is to use ultrasound to non-invasively measure wall thickness (usually abbreviated IMT) in portions of larger arteries closest to the skin, such as the carotid or femoral arteries. While stability vs. vulnerability cannot be readily distinguished in this way, quantitative baseline measurements of the thickest portions of the arterial wall (locations with the most plaque accumulation). Documenting the IMT, location of each measurement and plaque size, a basis for tracking and partially verifying the effects of medical treatments on the progression, stability, or potential regression of plaque, within a given individual over time, may be achieved.
Patients can lower their risk for vulnerable plaque rupture in the same ways that they can cut their heart attack risk: Optimize lipoprotein patterns, keep blood glucose levels low normal (see HbA1c), stay slender, eat a proper diet, quit smoking, and maintain a regular exercise program. Researchers also think that obesity and diabetes may be tied to high levels of C-reactive protein....