Atherosclerosis - Part 2 | Summary and Q&A

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September 10, 2012
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Khan Academy
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Atherosclerosis - Part 2

TL;DR

Smooth muscle cells migrate to the tunica intima and create a fibrous cap over the accumulated fat, leading to decreased blood vessel radius and increased vessel stiffness.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What happens to smooth muscle cells during the progression of atherosclerosis?

Smooth muscle cells migrate to the tunica intima and begin to create a fibrous cap over the accumulated fat. They play a crucial role in the progression of atherosclerosis.

Q: How does the fibrous cap form?

The fibrous cap is created by the smooth muscle cells. It is made up of proteins like collagen and elastin and acts as a protective layer over the accumulated fat.

Q: What are the effects of the fibrous cap on the blood vessel?

The fibrous cap leads to a decrease in the blood vessel radius, which increases resistance to blood flow. Additionally, the vessel wall becomes stiffer due to the deposition of calcium by the smooth muscle cells.

Q: What is the significance of the increased vessel stiffness?

The increased vessel stiffness, caused by the deposition of calcium, decreases vessel compliance. This means that the arteries are less able to expand and contract, which can lead to an increase in blood pressure.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Atherosclerosis is a process that occurs in the tunica intima, where macrophages form foam cells that accumulate fat.

  • Smooth muscle cells migrate to the tunica intima and begin to create a fibrous cap over the fat deposition.

  • The fibrous cap is made of proteins like collagen and elastin and leads to a decrease in blood vessel radius and increased vessel stiffness.

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