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Atherosclerosis. 2000 Apr;149(2):251-66.

The role of plaque rupture and thrombosis in coronary artery disease.

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Cardiovascular Biology Research Laboratory, Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Institute (Box 1030), Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Atherosclerosis and its thrombotic complications are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world. The progression of atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary circulation is dependent on several risk factors. It is now clear that plaque composition is a major determinant of the risk of subsequent plaque rupture and superimposed thrombosis. The vulnerability of plaques to rupture is further determined by extrinsic triggering factors. Following rupture, the fatty core of the plaque and its high content of tissue factor provide a powerful substrate for the activation of the coagulation cascade. Plaque rupture can be clinically silent or cause symptoms of ischaemia depending on thrombus burden and the degree of vessel occlusion. In addition, plaque rupture and subsequent healing is recognized to be a major cause of further rapid plaque progression. This review looks at the mechanisms underlying the development and progression of atherosclerotic plaques, factors leading to plaque rupture and subsequent thrombosis and their clinical consequences. Finally, we speculate on targets for future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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