Atherosclerosis leads to hardening, weakening, or occlusion of the arteries. The fundamental lesion is the atheroma (Greek: gruel, athere, meal, tumor). Atheroma is a discrete plaque containing lipid deposits that arises in the intima of an artery and has a predilection for areas of tortuosity and turbulence of blood flow. The aorta, the most frequently affected, is followed by the coronary, cerebral, and peripheral lower extremity arteries.

Atherosclerosis and its complications are the leading cause of death in North America and Western Europe.11 The mortality rates of men 55 to 59 years of age have been 3 times greater than the mortality rate in the general population. Statin therapy and surgical intervention have favorably influenced these statistics. The evidence of atherosclerotic disease, generally absent or rare before puberty, increases with age and becomes moderate to high in...

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