Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Danger Spots
28 June 2013

Danger Spots

The phrase ‘furred up arteries’ conjures up images of blocked water pipes – but the reality is far more complex. Calcified lesions on the inner surface of blood vessels or heart valves are an early sign of problems that can eventually lead to thromboses [blood clots], coronary artery disease and heart failure caused by the blood supply becoming restricted. The formation of these lesions may be linked to the existence of tiny particles – the orange spheres in this false-coloured picture of tissue from an aortic valve, showing signs of lesions (dark orange). Scientists found that these particles, each a thousand times smaller than a grain of sand, are made of a calcium-rich bone-like material. They’re also found in healthy arteries and valves, so more research is needed to prove and understand their role in the development of lesions.

Written by Mick Warwicker

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