Of the 57 million global deaths in 2008, 17.3 million (30%) were due to cardiovascular disease, of which heart attacks were responsible for 7.3 million deaths1. This high mortality poses a great burden to society, both in terms of mortality and morbidity. The rupture of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques is a major contributor to acute cardiovascular events and sudden cardiac deaths2. The vulnerability of an atherosclerotic plaque – its susceptibility to rupture – is known to be related to the composition of the plaque, the distribution of mechanical stress within it, and the presence and extent of associated inflammation3-5. One of the most common types of vulnerable plaques is the thin-cap fibroatheroma (TCFA). These lesions are characterized by a thin fibrous cap, weakened by the presence of macrophages, covering a lipid-rich necrotic core3. These and other known markers of plaque vulnerability are depicted in the schematic in Figure 1a. Figure 1b shows the gross morphology of a ruptured TCFA.

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A.F.W. van der Steen (Ton) , G. van Soest (Gijs)
This work was funded by the Dutch Technology Foundation (STW) through the 2007 Simon Stevin Meester grant (STW 10040) to A.F.W. van der Steen. Financial support for the printing of this thesis was provided by the Dutch Heart Foundation. We kindly acknowledge funding from ACIST Medical Systems and Cardialysis BV.
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Jansen, K. (2013, December 18). Intravascular photoacoustics. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/50207