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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Pharmacology of Antihyperlipidemic Medications for Laboratory Professionals. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Atherosclerosis

This graphic demonstrates the stages of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis results in the narrowing of the blood vessel secondary to plaque formation. Plaque formation results as the endothelial cells that line the blood vessel wall are damaged and disfunction because of cholesterol accumulation and inflammation. If this process goes unchecked, the plaque ruptures and a thrombosis (clot) forms at the site of the plaque rupture. This can result in decreased blood flow (ischemia) or loss of blood flow and tissue death (infarction). It is important to understand the difference between ischemia and infarction.
  • Ischemia of the brain is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini stroke.
  • Infarction of the brain is a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), also known as a stroke.
  • Ischemia of the coronary arteries (arteries surrounding the heart that supply heart muscle with oxygen) is coronary artery disease (CAD) or ischemic heart disease.
  • Infarction of the heart muscle is a myocardial infarction (MI), also known as a heart attack.