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Coronary System Tutorial
What is the Coronary System? Importance of the Coronary System Visualization of the Coronary System Biomedical Applications of the Coronary Arterial System Biomedical Applications of the Cardiac Venous System Cardiac Venous Valves

Coronary blood flow is critical in supporting cardiac function. If disease states or acute events occur that obstruct coronary flow, consequences are commonly quite detrimental and/or fatal. For example, changes in electrocardiograms can be recorded within beats when there is inadequate blood flow delivered to a region of the heart. Whenever coronary blood flow falls below what is required to meet metabolic needs, the myocardium is considered ischemic; the pumping capability of the heart is impaired, and there are associated changes in electrical activity (e.g., increased risk of fibrillation). Prolonged ischemia can lead to myocardial infarction, commonly called a heart attack, which can cause irreversible myocardial cell death. Coronary artery disease, which is associated with obstruction of arterial blood flow (see figure), is the most common type of heart disease and the leading cause of death in the United States in both males and females.(1)

  1. Alexander RW, Schlant RC, Fuster V, O'Rourke RA, Roberts R, Sonnenblick EH, eds. Hurst's the heart. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Artery with Plaque

This histologic view of an anterior arterial branch shows a layer of plaque that makes the interior lumen of the artery irregular. Additionally, this slide shows that this particular arterial branch was not completely encased by epicardial fat, but was partially surrounded by myocardium.