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Activity 3-1: Blocked Arteries

PLAN

Summary Students observe and describe an artery in various stages of atherosclerosis. They build models of healthy and diseased arteries and simulate a coronary bypass procedure.

Objectives

Students:

\checkmark describe the progressive buildup of plaque in an artery during different stages of atherosclerosis.

\checkmark demonstrate a coronary bypass procedure using a model.

\checkmark list some of the causes for plaque buildup.

\checkmark discuss possible consequences of atherosclerosis.

\checkmark list some ways to limit the risk of getting atherosclerosis.

\checkmark explain the structure and function of an artery and the effects of atherosclerosis.

Student Materials

  • Resources 1 and 2
  • Activity Report
  • Clear rubber tubing or toilet paper rolls; Scissors; Water; Paste; Markers; Cotton or clay

Teacher Materials

  • Activity Report Answer Key
  • Materials for constructing the models of arteries
  • American Heart Association slides of occluded arteries
  • “Eat Smart” video produced by MacNeil-Lehrer (optional)
  • Photos of occluded arteries (optional)
  • Diagram or model of the circulatory system showing location of the major arteries

Advance Preparation

Make clay or putty with a light yellow color to represent fats and cholesterol.

Estimated Time One 50-\mathrm{minute} class period.

Interdisciplinary Connection

Art Students can make a model of an artery in various stages of atherosclerosis using cross sections of arteries. Students also can make a model of the coronary bypass surgery procedure.

IMPLEMENT

Steps 1-3

Have students read Resource 1 before discussing the questions that follow. Make sure students read the description of each picture on Resource 1. Note students' answers to the following questions.

  • Why is atherosclerosis considered a danger to health?
  • What evidence suggests that a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet is linked to atherosclerosis?
  • Should you be concerned about your diet at your age? Why or why not? At what age should you become concerned?
  • What are two things you can do to prevent atherosclerosis?

Step 4

Discuss the color of the clay with students. Yellow designates fat or cholesterol. Demonstrate how blood flow in the unhealthy artery is reduced and/or stopped.

Step 5

Guide students to the diagram on Resource 2. Using the diagram on Resource 2, students can simulate a coronary artery bypass procedure. Students can cut the model leg vessel and use it as the bypass graft by gluing it directly on the heart on Resource 2. Or students can cut the heart and the leg blood vessel from Resource 2, glue the heart on a piece of construction paper, and glue the leg vessel as the bypass graft onto the heart. Discuss with students the instruments a surgeon uses during a real bypass operation instead of scissors (a scalpel) and instead of glue (stitching thread or staples).

Conclude Activity 3-1 by discussing the kinds of foods students ate yesterday and today. Discuss which of the foods they've eaten are high in fat content. Ask students to keep a food diary. Have them record the amount of fat consumed in a given time period.

Extend Activity 3-1 by asking students to:

  • collect food labels and record the saturated fats and cholesterol content. Have students compare their results and list the foods analyzed on a class chart.
  • research the following topics.

How effective is coronary bypass surgery? Are there other ways doctors can help manage plaque buildup in the arteries? (Examples: angioplasty, endarterectomy, and medications.) Write a letter to someone you care about who smokes. In the letter describe why smoking increases the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Helpful Hints

  • The American Heart Association has slides that show the progression of plaque buildup in atherosclerosis. These can be shown in addition to using the longitudinal sections of arteries included on Resource 1.
  • Monitor time to allow for adequate cleanup.
  • You can spray paint the cotton yellow or use yellow clay to represent fat or cholesterol.
  • Provide red construction paper for students to cover the outside of the paper roll so the model looks more like an artery.

ASSESS

Use the model of a healthy and unhealthy artery as well as the written responses to the Activity Report to assess if students can:

\checkmark compare and contrast a healthy and unhealthy artery.

\checkmark explain how too much fat and cholesterol can affect arteries.

\checkmark describe how the blood flow is restricted in an unhealthy artery.

\checkmark define the term atherosclerosis.

\checkmark explain the potential harmful effects of atherosclerosis.

\checkmark describe the purpose of a coronary bypass.

\checkmark identify ways to reduce the risk of getting atherosclerosis.

Activity 3-1: Blocked Arteries - Activity Report Answer Key

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. Describe the three pictures on Resource 1.

\text{Picture 1} && \text{Picture 2} && \text{Picture 3}

  1. Why do scientists believe a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet is linked to atherosclerosis?
  2. Why is atherosclerosis considered a health danger?
  3. Does an adolescent need to worry about cholesterol buildup? Explain.
  4. What are two ways to help prevent atherosclerosis?
  5. What do you think some positive and negative effects of coronary bypass surgery would be?
  6. What lifestyle changes would you recommend for a person who has just had his or her first heart attack and coronary bypass surgery?

A Suggested responses will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org.

Why is cutting an artery dangerous?

What do you think happens to the arterioles in your leg muscles when you are running? Explain.

If you are sick or frightened your face may get pale. What's happening in your body?

If you are embarrassed you may blush. What's happening in this situation inside your body?

Pretend you are a drop of blood. Describe any differences in passing through a healthy artery and passing through an unhealthy, atherosclerotic artery.

Review Questions/Answers

  • Sample answers to these questions will be provided upon request. Please send an email to teachers-requests@ck12.org to request sample answers.
  1. Describe three characteristics of arteries.
  2. Why doesn't blood stop flowing in your arterioles when the heart relaxes between beats?
  3. Describe two characteristics of arterioles. Explain how they work.
  4. What happens during a heart attack?
  5. What is atherosclerosis? How can you prevent it?
  6. Explain the role of blood pressure in moving blood from the heart through arteries to the cells of the body.

Activity 3-1 Resource 1: Blocked Arteries

Picture #1: A longitudinal section of an artery in which the process of atherosclerosis has begun. Excess fat particles collect under cells lining the artery that have been damaged by smoking, high blood pressure, and other causes. Atherosclerosis may not give a person any trouble until middle age, but it begins to develop earlier. For example, examination of American soldiers killed in the Korean War found that many soldiers had some degree of coronary atherosclerosis. Their average age was 22. Deposits also have been found in the arteries of adolescents as young as 10 years old.

Picture #2: A longitudinal section of an artery narrowed by fatty deposits. Blood platelets form a cap of cells that isolates the plaque within the artery wall. As we age, fatty deposits tend to accumulate. These deposits narrow and roughen the passageway. This narrowing of the vessel can cause a blood clot to form.

Picture #3: A cross section of an almost completely blocked artery. A blood clot that lodges here can be large enough to completely block blood flow in this artery. When an artery is almost or completely blocked, the part of the body it serves is deprived of blood and becomes damaged. If the narrowing or blockage occurs in a coronary artery, chest pains or a heart attack may result. A stroke is possible if a blood clot occurs in an artery leading to the brain.

Activity 3-1 Resource 2: Blocked Arteries

Activity 3-1 Report: Blocked Arteries

1. Describe the three pictures on Resource 1.

\text{Picture 1} && \text{Picture 2} && \text{Picture 3}

2. Why do scientists believe a high-fat, high-cholesterol diet is linked to atherosclerosis?

3. Why is atherosclerosis considered a health danger?

4. Does an adolescent need to worry about cholesterol buildup? Explain.

5. What are two ways to help prevent atherosclerosis?

6. What do you think some positive and negative effects of coronary bypass surgery would be?

7. What lifestyle changes would you recommend for a person who has just had his or her first heart attack and coronary bypass surgery?

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