Plaque is a buildup of cholesterol, white blood cells, calcium, and other substances
in the walls of arteries. Over time, plaque narrows the artery, and the artery hardens
Plaque sometimes reduces blood flow to the heart muscle, which can cause angina symptoms,
such as chest pain or pressure. Plaque in the large artery in the neck (carotid artery
stenosis) may reduce blood flow to the brain.
Plaques are covered with a fibrous cap, which may rupture if some trigger causes a
surge in blood pressure or causes the artery to constrict. A person may have a heart
attack or stroke if a plaque breaks open, creating a blood clot that completely blocks
blood flow through the artery.
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
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