Atherosclerotic plaques in coronary arteries may be more aptly described as pimples, initiated by the infiltration of cholesterol into the lining of our arteries. The ending, should blood flow to our heart muscle be cut off by a clot formed by the rupture of one of these inflamed pockets of pus in our arterial lining, is a heart attack.
Image thanks to the Center for Disease Control/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr.
The plaques in our coronary arteries which can eventually burst, shut off our hearts’ blood supply, and kill us are more aptly described as pimples… not plaques. They are inflamed pockets of pus, and it all starts with cholesterol.
This is a diagram of the wall of the coronary arteries crowning our heart. And here comes the villain of the story, LDL—the bad cholesterol—infiltrating the lining of our artery. It gets oxidized and triggers an inflammatory response. Your artery hangs a white towel out the window into the bloodstream asking for help. The lining of your artery actually produces adhesion molecules to stick white blood cells called monocytes zooming past and suck them into wall to try to repair some of the havok cholesterol is wreaking. We never evolved to have so cholesterol in our blood stream and causes damage and inflammation inside the walls of our arteries.
Other inflammatory cells are called into action and it gets pussier, and more inflamed, and turns into a big whitehead sticking out like a zit into the blood flow inside our arteries. The blood's pulsating past, can rip off the cap and you get a big squirt of pus straight into the artery. Blood rushes into the hole and says, hey we know how to plug holes, forms a blood clot (also known as a thrombus) that can close off the whole rest of artery. And then we have the opportunity to visualize a cross-section like this of an artery on autopsy ‘cause you’re dead.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena
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Cholesterol-induced zits in the lining of our coronary arteries can also occur in other blood vessels. In our head they can cause a stroke (videos about stroke), in our back they can cause degenerative disk disease (Cholesterol and Lower Back Pain), in our abdomen they can cause an aneurysm (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms: Ticking Time Balloons), and in our pelvis they can cause sexual dysfunction in both men (Atkins Diet: Trouble Keeping It Up) and women (Cholesterol and Female Sexual Dysfunction). Thankfully, Avoiding Cholesterol Is A No Brainer. It's Purely a Question Of Diet. Trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol should be kept to a minimum. There are more than 80 videos on heart disease and also hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.
Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for more context: The Most Anti-Inflammatory Mushroom, Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk, Plant-Based Diets for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Avoid Carnitine and Lethicin Supplements