Atherosclerosis is a disease of arteries involving the buildup of fatty material called plaque along the walls of medium and large arteries characterized by patchy subintimal thickening, hardening, and loss of elasticity of blood vessels.
The intima is the innermost layer of an artery, having contact with blood. The subintima is beneath it.
Q: What happens when arteries become narrowed and less flexible?
A: Narrowing of the inside diameter of blood vessels and hardening of their walls reduce or obstruct blood flow through them which impairs their ability to supply tissues of the body with oxygen and nourishment.
When tissues are deprived of oxygen, pain and dysfunction results such as angina pectoris involving heart muscle because the heart continually needs oxygen never being able to rest.
It is thought that atherosclerosis develops from 1) epithelial cell dysfunction of the intima, and 2) lipid (fat) accumulation in smooth muscle cells and in foam cells, causing buildup of fatty deposits on the inside walls progressing to fibrous plaque formation. That is, intimal smooth muscle cells are surrounded by connective tissue and intracellular and extracellular lipids (fat build-up inside and outside of these cells).
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