The human is a very sophisticated organism in which adaptation is the key to its survival. During a lifetime, the human body is exposed to a wide variety of stimuli. Some of them are self-inflicted while others arise from the environment and nature itself. Communication plays an important role in the response to these stimuli. The main signal transduction in the human body is organized by electrical signals through nerves or by transportation of biomolecular signals through blood vessels. These blood vessels also provide the organs with nutrients and oxygen. When these communication channels are compromised, the human body will try to repair them or find alternative channels. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease affecting the arterial blood vessels. The prevalence of atherosclerosis leading to cardiovascular disease is 36.3% and the disease is at the top of the list of the 15 leading causes of death in the USA. If the carotid arteries (which supply the brain with blood) are affected the disease can lead to a stroke, which is the third most common cause of death and is also responsible for 5 million permanently disabled persons per year world wide. Removal of the obstructing atherosclerotic plaque in the carotid bifurcation has reduced the risk of a stroke, but more knowledge on the development of atherosclerotic disease is required to improve treatment.

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Netherlands Heart Foundation, Merck Sharp & Dohme B.V., Hamamatsu Photonics Deutschland GmbH
A.F.W. van der Steen (Ton)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Groen, H. (2010, November 10). Atherosclerotic plaque and shear stress in cartotid arteries. Retrieved from