Current Cardiology Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 342–349 | Cite as

Aortic Atherosclerosis and Embolic Events

Echocardiography (RM Lang, Section Editor)

Abstract

Aortic plaques are a manifestation of the general process of atherosclerosis in which there is a progressive accumulation of cholesterol and other lipids in the intimal-medial layer of the aorta with secondary inflammation, repetitive fibrous tissue deposition, and eventually luminal surface erosions and appearance of often mobile thrombi protruding into the lumen of the aorta. Aortic plaques may give rise to two types of emboli: thromboemboli and atheroemboli (cholesterol crystal emboli). Thromboemboli are relatively large, tend to occlude medium to large arteries, and cause strokes, transient ischemic attacks, and renal infarcts and other forms of peripheral thromboembolism. Cholesterol crystal emboli are relatively minute, tend to occlude small arteries and arterioles, and may cause the blue toe syndrome, new or worsening renal insufficiency, gut ischemia, etc. Transesophageal echocardiography remains the gold standard for visualization of aortic plaques in the thoracic aorta. There are no proven therapies for aortic embolism per se; general atherosclerosis management strategies are recommended.

Keywords

Atherosclerosis Aorta Thromboembolism Atheroma Plaque Atheroembolism Cholesterol embolization syndrome Transesophageal echocardiography 3D echocardiography Computed tomography Magnetic resonance imaging Stroke Transient ischemic attack 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leon H. Charney Division of CardiologyNew York University Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Cardiovascular MedicineLenox Hill HospitalNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Noninvasive Cardiology LaboratoryNew York University Langone Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Lenox Hill Interventional Cardiac and Vascular ServicesNew YorkUSA

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