Angina is one of the most common heart conditions, affecting more than one in a hundred people. Usually limited to pain in the heart muscles, having angina can also be a sign that fibroatheromas are forming – irregularities in the walls of the vital arteries that feed the heart with oxygen. They can cause potentially life threatening blood clots and are notoriously hard to detect because they form inside the walls of the arteries, so outwardly arteries can appear clear and healthy. Ultrasound – the same technology used to see babies in the womb – can provide a view into the artery wall (left). By transforming this image into a computer generated 'virtual' artery, fibroatheromas can be pinpointed (right – shown in white). Scientists are now looking for the proteins responsible and may already have found one.
Written by Fred White-Flower
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