The traditional view of atherosclerosis as a lipid storage disease crumbles in the face of extensive and growing evidence that inflammation participates centrally in all stages of this disease, from the initial lesion to the end-stage thrombotic complications. Investigators now appreciate that narrowing arteries do not necessarily presage myocardial infarction and that simply treating narrowed blood vessels does not prolong life. Although invasive approaches such as angioplasty and coronary artery bypass will remain necessary in some cases, we now understand that at least some of the cardiovascular benefits attributable to medical treatment and lifestyle modification (diet and physical activity) may result from reductions in inflammatory processes.
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