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Atherosclerosis with consequent serious cardiovascular diseases appears to be relatively human specific. Non human primates have a lower incidence of spontaneous cardiac and arterial disease. Although cholesterol values are consistently higher in chimpanzees than in humans, there are only rare descriptions of atherosclerotic coronary artery disease. Although coronary atherosclerosis, myointimal thickening with associated lipid deposition, occurs when the non-human primate is manipulated by dietary intervention, the incidence of spontaneous coronary artery atherosclerosis remains markedly lower than that reported for humans. While focal coronary and cerebral artery plaques and diffuse lesions in the aorta were seen at necropsy, atherosclerosis is considered to be of minor clinical significance in the chimpanzee. While cardiac diseases is a major cause of death in chimpanzees the pathology is myocardial fibrosis rather than ischemic heart disease.
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