How coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis) develops
This animation will show how atherosclerosis
develops in the heart. Click the navigation arrows below the animation
screen to play, pause, rewind or fast-forward the animation. This animation
contains sound. Atherosclerosis is the process by which arteries
become gradually narrowed and hardened.
If this happens in the arteries that supply the heart
it causes coronary heart disease. This can lead to chest pain called angina
and, eventually a heart attack. The network of blood vessels that branch over
the surface of the heart are called the coronary arteries.
Atherosclerosis can happen in any part of the coronary arteries.
The coronary arteries supply the heart with blood.
Over years, fatty deposits in the blood can build up and form a plaque (atheroma)
on the artery wall. This can prevent the heart muscle from getting
the blood (and the oxygen) supply that it needs.
This tends to happen during physical exertion or when angry or stressed.
It causes a heavy or tight chest pain called angina.
Afterwards the pain goes away. If the plaque continues to grow, the risk
of having a heart attack, where the blood supply to the heart is completely cut off,
rises. This is the end of the animation.
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