Tech break­through of­fers early warn­ing sys­tem for heart at­tacks

Stabroek News Sunday - - CLASSIFIEDS -

OX­FORD, Eng­land (Reuters) - A new method of an­a­lyz­ing images from CT scans can pre­dict which pa­tients are at risk of a heart at­tack years be­fore it oc­curs, re­searchers say.

The tech­nol­ogy, de­vel­oped by teams at Ox­ford Univer­sity and in­sti­tu­tions in Ger­many and the United States, uses al­go­rithms to ex­am­ine the fat sur­round­ing coro­nary ar­ter­ies as it shows up on com­puted to­mog­ra­phy (CT) heart scans.

That fat gets al­tered when an artery be­comes in­flamed, serv­ing as an early warn­ing sys­tem for what one of the re­searchers be­lieves could be up 30 per­cent of heart at­tacks.

“If you are able to iden­tify in­flam­ma­tion in the ar­ter­ies of the heart then you can say which ar­ter­ies ... will cause heart at­tacks,” Ox­ford Pro­fes­sor of Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Medicine, Char­alam­bos An­to­ni­ades, told Reuters.

“With the new tech­nol­ogy that we have we can achieve this by an­a­lyz­ing sim­ple CT scans.”

Most heart at­tacks are caused by a build-up of plaque - a fatty de­posit - in­side the artery, which in­ter­rupts the flow of blood.

Cur­rently, CT scans tell a doc­tor when an artery has al­ready be­come nar­rowed by plaque.

With the new tech­nol­ogy, for which the re­searchers hope to gain reg­u­la­tory ap­proval on both sides of the At­lantic within a year, doc­tors will be able to say which ar­ter­ies are at risk of nar­row­ing.

“(We) can say ...your ar­ter­ies are in­flamed and a nar­row­ing will be de­vel­oped five years down the line. So maybe you can start pre­ven­tive mea­sures to avoid this for­ma­tion of the plaques,” An­to­ni­ades said.

Heart dis­ease and stroke are the two big­gest causes of death world­wide.

“Although we have not es­ti­mated the ex­act num­ber of heart at­tacks that we can pre­vent, we could po­ten­tially iden­tify at least 20 or 30 per­cent of the peo­ple be­fore they have (one),” An­to­ni­ades said.

An Ox­ford Univer­sity spin-off com­pany is now de­vel­op­ing a ser­vice to an­a­lyze CT scans from across the globe in around 24 hours.

The re­search was pub­lished in late Au­gust in med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet.

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