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Plaque Rupture

- Summary
- About plaque rupture
- Signs and symptoms
- Diagnosis and treatment
- Prevention methods
- Questions for your doctor

Reviewed By:
Kerry Prewitt, M.D., FACC
Abdou Elhendy, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA
Andrew E. Lituchy, M.D., FACC

Summary

Plaque rupture is a dangerous condition in which a formation of plaque within an artery ruptures, releasing fatty particles and other non-soluble material into the bloodstream. There are several dangerous situationsPlaque rupture is the release of an unstable plaque's contents into the bloodstream. that may result from this event. After the rupture, the site of the rupture could seal over with an overlying clot, causing a potentially larger blockage in the artery. Also, the fatty particles may become lodged (as embolisms) further downstream in the artery. In either case, the result may be a heart attack or stroke.

Plaque deposits are created as part of the disease process known as atherosclerosis, sometimes called "hardening of the arteries." During this process, the sensitive interior walls of arteries are compromised, allowing fatty streaks to form inside the artery. Over time, as the injury to the arterial wall worsens, the fatty streaks grow into fat deposits that penetrate into the artery wall. These fat deposits are made up cholesterol, white blood cells and other cell byproducts. Over time, the deposit may be covered with a relatively thick lining. Plaque rupture occurs when the lining develops a crack or tear and in the inner contents erupt into the bloodstream. This prompts formation of blood clots.

Prevention of plaque build–up is the best strategy for avoiding the dangerous effects of a plaque rupture. These preventive strategies are described in this article.

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Review Date: 02-02-2007
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