Disease description Atherosclerosis is an immunoinflammatory disease of the medium and large sized arteries in the human body (Falk, 2006). The deposition of fat and cholesterol in the inner arterial wall results in the formation of hard atherosclerotic plaques…
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Acute coronary syndromes and stroke can result if a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque is superimposed by thrombosis (Falk, 2006; Dugdale, 2010). Normal physiology of arteries Arteries are high-pressure vessels that carry blood to various parts of the body. A cross-section of the normal arterial wall consists of three layers: outer, middle and inner layer. The middle layer or the media consists of tightly packed smooth muscle cells, tissue proteins such as collagen and elastin, and proteoglycans which form gels. The inner layer or the intima consists of loosely packed cells and there are open spaces between the tissue components. The outer layer or the adventitia also consists of loose cells and bundles of collagen and connective tissues. Atherosclerosis occurs in the inner layer or the intima which is a form of connective tissue. These tissues are responsible for providing shape and structure to the body organs. The fibrous tissue proteins such as elastin and collagen which are present in between the cells give strength to the tissue. The arterial intima consists of elastin, collagen and proteoglycans which give strength to the tissue. In addition, the boundary between the arterial intima and the blood is lined by closely packed endothelial cells which prevent the cells and proteins in the blood from coming into contact with the underlying connective tissue (Atherosclerosis, n.d).
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