ABSTRACT: There is no doubt that atherosclerosis is one of the most important health problems in the Western Societies. It is well accepted that atherosclerosis is associated with abnormal stress and strain conditions. A compelling observation is that the epicardial arteries develop atherosclerosis while the intramural arteries do not. Atherosclerotic changes involving the epicardial portion of the coronary artery stop where the artery penetrates the myocardium. The objective of the present study is to understand the fluid and solid mechanical differences between the two types of vessels. A finite element analysis was employed to investigate the effect of external tissue contraction on the characteristics of pulsatile blood flow and the vessel wall stress distribution. The sequential coupling of fluid-solid interaction (FSI) revealed that the changes of flow velocity and wall shear stress, in response to cyclical external loading, appear less important than the circumferential stress and strain reduction in the vessel wall under the proposed boundary conditions. These results have important implications since high stresses and strains can induce growth, remodeling, and atherosclerosis; and hence we speculate that a reduction of stress and strain may be atheroprotective. The importance of FSI in deformable vessels with pulsatile flow is discussed and the fluid and solid mechanics differences between epicardial and intramural vessels are highlighted.
Journal of Biomechanical Engineering 01/2005; 126(6):760-9. · 1.90 Impact Factor