LONDON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Researchers have developed a new technology that can flag patients at risk of deadly heart attacks years before they occur, according to a study released on Tuesday by the University of Oxford.
Researchers at the University of Oxford, working with colleagues in Germany and the United States, have demonstrated a technology that is capable of detecting the inflamed plaques that are prone to cause heart attacks by analyzing computed tomography (CT) images of the fat surrounding the arteries.
It has been shown that the most dangerous plaques release chemical messengers which modify the surrounding fat. Heart attacks are usually caused by inflamed plaques in the coronary artery, causing an abrupt blockage of blood getting to the heart.
The Fat Attenuation Index (FAI) technology was found to predict fatal heart attacks many years before they happen, with a significantly superior predictive accuracy compared with other methods. People with abnormal FAI had up to nine times higher risk of having a fatal heart attack in the next five years. The relevant results of the technology has been published in the journal The Lancet.
"Knowing who is at increased risk for a heart attack could allow us to intervene early enough to prevent it. I expect these biomarkers to become an essential part of standard CT coronary angiography reporting in the coming years," said Professor Charalambos Antoniades, who led the study at the University of Oxford's Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.