Background: Ischemic heart disease (IHD) following atherosclerosis is a giant killer and the incidence of atherosclerosis in coronary arteries is rapidly increasing among Indians. The study was formulated to assess the histomorphological atherosclerotic changes in aorta and coronary arteries at autopsy by applying the modified American Heart Association classification of atherosclerosis based on morphological descriptions to find out the age and sex related prevalence of atherosclerosis in the semi-urban population of Kolar, a district in Southern India. Materials and Methods: Autopsy was conducted on 113 cases whose age ranged from 8-85 years. Autopsy was conducted by the conventional technique; heart and the aorta were removed and fixed in 10% formalin. The heart was dissected along the direction of flow of blood and aorta along the posterior surface. Microscopic assessment of the three main coronary arteries and aorta was done using the modified American Heart Association classification of atherosclerosis. Proportions were analyzed using Chi-square test. Results: The number of males was 78 (69%) and number of females was 35 (31%). Mean age was 37.11 ± 15.69 years. Increased incidence of intermediate lesions was noted in young individuals (15-34 yrs). Atherosclerotic lesions were more in left anterior descending artery compared to other coronary arteries and in abdominal aorta compared to thoracic and ascending aorta. Vulnerable plaques were more in right coronary artery. Conclusion: With cardiovascular disease attaining pandemic proportions, the study of subclinical atherosclerosis is the need of the hour to estimate the disease burden in the asymptomatic population. The increased amount of atherosclerosis (advanced and intermediate lesions) found in the young population in this study gives an indication that anti-atherogenic preventive measures need to be implemented in young individuals, so as to prevent coronary artery disease from causing premature death.
Key words: Atherosclerosis, autopsy, modified American Heart Association classification.