MRI imaging of carotid artery plaque can help predict future cardiovascular events

Magnetic resonance imaging can, by identifying vulnerable carotid plaque characteristics, help predict the likelihood of cardiovascular events in persons without a history of cardiovascular disease, according to a study published this month in Radiology.

The researchers performed carotid ultrasound and MRI on 946 asymptomatic patients, and the imaging results were compared with cardiovascular events for an average of 5.5 years. They found that cardiovascular events occurred in 59 patients and that an abnormal thickening of the carotid artery wall and the presence of a lipid core and calcium in the internal carotid artery on MRI were significant predictors of subsequent events.

"The primary factors that predicted future risk were measures of vessel wall thickness in combination with the presence or absence of a lipid core," said author David A. Bluemke, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. "The presence of a lipid core was 50 percent more common in people who had subsequent events." Announcement

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