Published on 12/11/2013
A revolutionary method of scanning the heart can identify those who could be at high risk of a heart attack, according to preliminary tests.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the world's biggest killers
The scan can identify potentially fatal plaques in the arteries that sustain the heart. If a fatty plaque ruptures it could lead to a serious health problem such as a clot or restriction of blood flow.
Studies from scientists at the University of Edinburgh believe that an efficient and accurate tool for predicting the risk of heart attack would make a “massive difference” to patients.
The method involved using a radioactive tracer that can show dangerous plaques and when combined with high resolution images of the heart and blood vessels it provides an effective tool to identify the risk of heart attack.
In the UK more than 100,000 people suffer a heart attack each year and cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the world.
The study was published in the Lancet medical journal and the results showed that the scan highlighted the plaque which caused the heart attack in 37 of the patients.
Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Being able to identify dangerous fatty plaques likely to cause a heart attack is something that conventional heart tests can't do.
"This research suggests that PET-CT scanning may provide an answer - identifying 'ticking time bomb' patients at risk of a heart attack.
"We now need to confirm these findings, and then understand how best to use new tests like this in the clinic to benefit heart patients."
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