How Heart Disease Happens

When you think of heart disease, you probably picture a simple process whereby cholesterol sticks to artery nd gums them up, eventually closing them off What actually happens is somewhat different—and considerably more complicated

Stage I Heart Disease: The Scene Is Set

Excess LDL particle the blood burrow into the artery way response, white blood cells call monocytes rush to the site of the injury they latch onto adhesion modules and are lured inside the artery wall by the chemicals messenger are called chemokines. Once inside monocytes engulf the LDL to dispose of it. But if there is to a much LDL. the monocytes become stuffed and turn foamy. These “foam cells” collect in the blood vessel wall, eventually forming a tatty streak. This is stage in the development of plaque

Stage II: A Narrowed Artery

As plaque accumulates, it creates a bulge inside the artery wall, narrowing the artery at this site. Think of the bulge as a wound, The body tries to protect the wound by forming 4 hard cap over it, much like a scab. If the plaque stops growing, the cap may stabilize it, making it less likely to rupture But if the plaque continues to grow, ihe cap becomes thin, weak, and more likely to burst.

Stage III: Plaque Burst!

The cap may be further weakened by inflammatory chemicals, produced by foam cells, that eat away at it. Stress at the site of the plaque (for instance, from an increase in heart rate or blood pressure due to emotional stress or exertion) may cause it to rupture. As the contents spew into the artery, the body sends a distress signal that triggers a clotting response. If a clot blocks the artery, a heart attack results.

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