It is well established that atherosclerosis alters the biomechanics of the arterial wall. In more advanced stages of the disease, atherosclerosis leads to formation of plaques, which can cause life-threatening events such as stroke or myocardial infarction when they rupture. The carotid artery is of special interest when screening patients for cardiovascular disease because of its superficial nature, which makes it easy to study with ultrasound. In addition, as it is particularly susceptible to plaque formation, it is a potential source of stroke. A lot of research effort is dedicated to the identification of plaques prone to rupture (the vulnerable plaque), using invasive (for coronary) and non-invasive ultrasound techniques for superficial arteries such as the carotid. As these vulnerable plaques can not be distinguished from stable plaques on a pure morphological basis other indices have to be found. It is commonly believed that detailed analysis of stresses and strains in the vessel wall may provide the necessary information to make this distinction.

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