News | July 18, 2013

Atherosclerosis in Abdominal Aorta May Signal Future Heart Attack, Stroke

July 18, 2013 — In a study of more than 2,000 adults, researchers found that two MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) measurements of the abdominal aorta — the amount of plaque in the vessel and the thickness of its wall — are associated with future cardiovascular events, such as a heart attack or stroke. Results of the study are published online in the journal Radiology

“This is an important study, because it demonstrates that atherosclerosis in an artery outside the heart is an independent predictor of adverse cardiovascular events,” said the study’s lead author, Christopher D. Maroules, M.D., a radiology resident at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the study’s lead author. “MRI is a promising tool for quantifying atherosclerosis through plaque and arterial wall thickness measurements.”

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fat, cholesterol and other substances collect within the arteries, forming plaque. As plaque accumulates, the artery narrows, limiting blood flow. The condition can occur in any artery, including the cerebral (brain) and coronary (heart) arteries and the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart through the abdomen to the rest of body. The aorta is the largest artery body.

In the study, researchers analyzed abdominal MR images of 2,122 participants (mean age 44) in the Dallas Heart Study, a multi-ethnic population-based study of healthy adults from Dallas County in Texas. Two measurements were obtained from the MR images: mean abdominal aortic wall thickness, or the thickness of the vessel wall, and the amount of plaque buildup, referred to as the aortic plaque burden.

Following imaging, study participants were monitored for a period of 7.8 years. During that time, 143 participants experienced an adverse cardiovascular event in which arterial blood flow was obstructed, resulting in death or medical intervention. Researchers categorized the events as related to the heart (cardiac events) or to other arteries (called extra-cardiac vascular events) such as those in the brain or abdomen.

Of the 143 cardiovascular events, 34 were fatal. Seventy-three were non-fatal cardiac events, including heart attack or coronary revascularization, and 46 were non-fatal extra-cardiac vascular events, such as stroke or carotid revascularization.

Using the MRI measurements, the researchers found that increased abdominal aortic wall thickness correlated with a greater risk for all types of cardiovascular events. An increase in both wall thickness and aortic plaque burden was associated with an increased risk for non-fatal extra-cardiac vascular events. “These MRI measurements may add additional prognostic value to traditional cardiac risk stratification models,” Maroules said.

MR imaging of the abdominal aorta is less technically challenging than other vascular imaging exams because of the large size of the vessel and its lack of proximity to a moving organ, such as the heart or the lungs. In addition, images of the abdominal aorta are often captured when patients undergo other exams, such as MRI of the spine or abdomen.

“The abdominal aorta is incidentally imaged on a regular basis,” Maroules said. “Radiologists can infer prognostic information from routine MRI exams that may benefit patients by identifying subclinical disease.”

According to Maroules, further MRI research will contribute to a better understanding of the progression of atherosclerosis, which scientists believe begins with a remodeling or thickening of the vessel wall prior to the buildup of plaque.

For more information: www.radiology.rsna.org

Related Content

Houston Methodist Hospital Enters Multi-Year Technology and Research Agreement With Siemens Healthineers
News | Imaging | August 17, 2017
Houston Methodist Hospital and Siemens Healthineers have entered into a multi-year agreement to bring cutting-edge...
Carestream Launches MR Brain Perfusion and Diffusion Modules for Vue PACS
Technology | Advanced Visualization | August 16, 2017
Carestream Health recently introduced new MR (magnetic resonance) Brain Perfusion and MR Brain Diffusion modules that...
ISMRM Issues Guidelines for MRI Gadolinium Contrast Agents
News | Contrast Media | August 15, 2017
The International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM) has provided new guidance in the use of contrast...
MRI Reveals Striking Brain Differences in People with Genetic Autism

Example images for a control participant , a deletion carrier, and a duplication carrier. In the sagittal image of the deletion carrier, the thick corpus callosum, dens and craniocervical abnormality, and cerebellar ectopia are shown. For the duplication carrier, the sagittal image shows the thin corpus callosum and the axial image shows the increased ventricle size and decreased white matter volume. Image courtesy of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

News | Neuro Imaging | August 09, 2017
August 9, 2017 — In the first major study of its kind, researchers using magnetic...
GE Healthcare's Signa Premier MRI Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance
Technology | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 04, 2017
GE Healthcare announced Signa Premier, a new wide bore 3.0T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system, is now available...
brain with chronic traumatic injury
News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 02, 2017
Fighters are exposed to repeated mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), which has been associated with neurodegenerative...
News | Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) | July 31, 2017
Elekta’s magnetic resonance radiation therapy (MR/RT) system will be the subject of 21 abstracts at the 59th American...
NIH-funded scientists have discovered that Parkinson’s disease increases the amount of “free” water in a particular brain area

NIH-funded scientists have discovered that Parkinson’s disease increases the amount of “free” water in a particular brain area. Image courtesy of David Vaillancourt, Ph.D., University of Florida.

News | Neuro Imaging | July 31, 2017
Scientists at the University of Florida have discovered a new method of observing the brain changes caused by Parkinson...
Overlay Init