A Heart's Hidden Danger

Soft and deadly, vulnerable plaque is changing the way doctors look at cardiac disease

It is not an uncommon story--a fit man in his 40s or 50s arrives at his doctor's office for his annual checkup and eventually leaves with a clean bill of health. Soon afterward he drops dead of a heart attack. Why didn't his tests show anything amiss? Cardiologists are increasingly convinced they have discovered the answer. Evidence is growing that not all the fatty deposits found in coronary arteries are equally prone to trigger heart attacks. Often the smallest, least detectable plaques are the most dangerous--because of their unhappy tendency to burst, triggering the formation of a clot that blocks a...

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