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Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 1999;1:299-329.

Fluid mechanics of vascular systems, diseases, and thrombosis.

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G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0405, USA.


The cardiovascular system is an internal flow loop with multiple branches circulating a complex liquid. The hallmarks of blood flow in arteries are pulsatility and branches, which cause wall stresses to be cyclical and nonuniform. Normal arterial flow is laminar, with secondary flows generated at curves and branches. Arteries can adapt to and modify hemodynamic conditions, and unusual hemodynamic conditions may cause an abnormal biological response. Velocity profile skewing can create pockets in which the wall shear stress is low and oscillates in direction. Atherosclerosis tends to localize to these sites and creates a narrowing of the artery lumen--a stenosis. Plaque rupture or endothelial injury can stimulate thrombosis, which can block blood flow to heart or brain tissues, causing a heart attack or stroke. This small lumen and elevated shear rate in a stenosis create conditions that accelerate platelet accumulation and occlusion. The relationship between thrombosis and fluid mechanics is complex, especially in the post-stenotic flow field. New convection models have been developed to predict clinical from platelet thrombosis in diseased arteries. Future hemodynamic studies should address the complex mechanics of flow-induced, large-scale wall motion and convection of semisolid particles and cells in flowing blood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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