Modulation of Atherosclerosis by N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Atherosclerosis comes from the Greek words athero (meaning gruel or paste) and sclerosis (hardness). It is a common disorder of the arteries which occurs when fat, cholesterol, and other substances build up in the walls of arteries and form hard structures called plaques (Rader and Daugherty 2008). The plaques can make the artery narrow and less exible, making it harder for blood to ow. If the coronary arteries become narrow, blood ow to the heart can slow down or stop. This can cause chest pain (stable angina), shortness of breath, heart attack, and other symptoms. Pieces of plaque can break off and move through the bloodstream (embolization). This is a common cause of heart attack and stroke. Blood clots can also form around a tear (ssure) in the plaque and block blood ow. If the clot moves into an artery in the heart, lungs, or brain, it can cause a stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism (Rader and Daugherty 2008). Eighty million American adults (approximately 1 in 3) have cardiovascular disease (CVD) (Lloyd-Jones et al. 2009). CVD is the number 1 cause of deaths in United States, accounting for 34% of all deaths or 2400 deaths each day (AHA 2005). It is a major public health problem with annual economic loss of $400 billion (Lloyd-Jones et al. 2009).