New advances in image and signal processing have allowed the development of numerous invasive and noninvasive imaging modalities that have revealed details of plaque pathology and allowed us to study in vivo the atherosclerotic evolution. Recent natural history of atherosclerosis studies permitted us to evaluate changes in the compositional and morphological characteristics of the plaque and identify predictors of future events. The idea of being able to identify future culprit lesions and passivate these plaques has gradually matured, and small scale studies have provided proofs about the feasibility of this concept. This review article summarizes the recent advances in the study of atherosclerosis, cites the current evidence, highlights our limitations in understanding the evolution of the plaque and in predicting plaque destabilization, and discusses the potentiality of an early invasive sealing of future culprit lesions. (Am Heart J 2013;165:869-881.e4.).
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