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Troubled Hearts

Coronary arteries are the network of blood vessels that supply the heart.  In this photograph, the left coronary artery has been injected with a red dye, and the right coronary artery with white.

This photograph shows a cross-section of a coronary artery affected by atherosclerosis.  Deposits of plaque, which consists of fatty material, cholesterol, calcium and blood clot, have narrowed the artery considerably.  
A heart attack happens when the coronary artery becomes blocked.

The arrows point to the site of a heart attack, where the heart muscle has died from oxygen deprivation.  Normally, the area would look pink.

In some heart attacks, a condition called mural thrombus occurs.  Blood that is no longer pumping through the heart starts clotting, eventually turning into a fibrous tissue that marks the exact location of the heart attack.

One consequence of a heart attack is the softening of the affected tissue.  In heart attacks involving the septum  the wall between the pumping chambers  that softening can lead to a rupture of the wall itself.  The result is usually instant death.

All images copyright © Camera M.D. Studios. Special thanks to Gregory Curfman, M.D..

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