Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis (AS) is characterized by yellow atheromatous plaques up to 1.5 cm in diameter that line at least part of the lumen of the vessel. These plaques are found to contain a superficial fibrous cap which is composed of smooth muscle cells, leukocytes, and dense collagen. Under this cap are more smooth muscle cells, macrophages, and T-cells. There may also be a central area of necrosis, which is very prominent in this slide. This central area is characterized by dead cells, lipid, cholesterol clefts (seen occupying the majority of the right half of this slide), foamy macrophages, and plasma proteins. The atheroma is often preceded by a fatty streak. Contrast this atheroma with a complicated one. Fifty percent of all deaths in the United States are attributable to atherosclerosis.
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