Atherosclerosis is the main cause of cardiovascular disease and is characterized by plaque formation, with lipid accumulation in the arterial wall, covered by a fibrous cap. Rupture of such a cap is the main underlying cause of sudden coronary deaths and strokes. Cap rupture occurs when the mechanical stress in the cap exceeds local cap strength. Accurate determination of cap stresses might therefore play an important role in the prediction of cap rupture. An important determinant of plaque deformation and cap stress is the mechanical behaviour of the diseased plaque components, of which little is known. The aim of this study is to determine material properties of atherosclerotic plaques using a mixed experimental-numerical approach. Plaque deformation as measured ex-vivo with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will be matched with computed deformations based on the measured plaque geometry.

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