News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | June 08, 2018

High Prevalence of Atherosclerosis Found in Lower Risk Patients

Magnetic resonance angiography offers radiation-free method to detect atherosclerosis earlier throughout the body

High Prevalence of Atherosclerosis Found in Lower Risk Patients

June 8, 2018 — Whole-body magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) found a surprisingly high prevalence of atherosclerosis in people considered at low to intermediate risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a study appearing online in the journal Radiology. Almost half of all study participants had at least one narrowed artery.

Atherosclerotic disease is characterized by a narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque buildup. The condition often progresses to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Early intervention can slow or reverse disease progression, but standard imaging techniques for early detection focus on specific artery segments, potentially missing evidence of disease elsewhere in the body.

Whole-body MRA allows clinicians to take a broader view of the vascular system.

“The key advantages of this MRA technique include the ‘whole-body’ approach, which detects systemic disease that would be missed by modalities assessing single vascular sites,” said study co-author Graeme Houston, M.D., from the University of Dundee in Dundee, Scotland. “The results offer a validated quantitative score of atherosclerotic burden, and the technique does not use ionizing radiation, which is an advantage over CT [computed tomography] angiography.”

Houston and colleagues used whole-body MRA to quantify the burden and distribution of asymptomatic atherosclerosis in 1,513 people, average age 53.5 years old. The participants were considered in the low-intermediate risk group, with a 10-year cardiovascular disease risk of less than 20 percent. The researchers assessed 31 arterial segments in each participant.

The plaque burden, or overall amount of atherosclerotic plaque, and number of narrowed vessels correlated with age, blood pressure and cholesterol — all known risk factors for cardiovascular events like heart attacks. But the prevalence of atherosclerosis in the study group was surprisingly high. Almost half of the participants had at least one narrowed vessel, and more than a quarter had multiple narrowed vessels.

“This is surprising, given that the study group was made up of asymptomatic individuals without diabetes who had low to intermediate risk of future cardiovascular events by standard risk factor assessment,” Houston said.

With whole-body MRA, the researchers were able to detect early atherosclerotic disease throughout the body, disease that would have been missed by methods that evaluate only a single vascular territory. The technique’s high technical success rate — researchers were able to interpret 99.4 percent of the potentially analyzable arterial segments — underscores its potential for more widespread use.

“The results confirm the feasibility for MRA as an imaging method for detecting early atherosclerotic disease in individuals at low- to intermediate-risk of cardiovascular events,” Houston said. “This approach could stratify individuals for the presence of disease burden, which could inform further preventative therapy in the future.”

The researchers plan to conduct follow-up studies to look for links between whole-body MRA findings and long-term health outcomes.

For more information: www.pubs.rsna.org/journal/radiology

Reference

Lambert M.A., Weir-McCall J.R., Salsano M., et al. Prevalence and Distribution of Atherosclerosis in a Low- to Intermediate-Risk Population: Assessment with Whole-Body MR Angiography. Radiology, May 1, 2018. https://doi.org/10.1148/radiol.2018171609

Related Content

Smoldering Spots in the Brain May Signal Severe MS

NIH researchers found that dark rimmed spots representing ongoing, “smoldering” inflammation, may be a hallmark of more disabling forms of multiple sclerosis. Image courtesy of Reich lab, NIH/NINDS.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 22, 2019
Aided by a high-powered brain scanner and a 3-D printer, National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers peered inside...
Vaping Impairs Vascular Function

Image courtesy of the American Heart Association

News | Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) | August 21, 2019
Inhaling a vaporized liquid solution through an e-cigarette, otherwise known as vaping, immediately impacts vascular...
Jackson Memorial Hospital Holds Ribbon-cutting for New Cardiac Catheterization Labs
News | Angiography | August 21, 2019
Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami celebrated the opening of two newly renovated cardiac catheterization suites during...
Improved Imaging Technique Could Increase Chances of Prostate Cancer Survival
News | Prostate Cancer | August 20, 2019
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their...
Some Pregnant Women Are Exposed to Gadolinium in Early Pregnancy
News | Women's Health | August 20, 2019
A small but concerning number of women are exposed to a commonly used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agent...
New MRI Technique Captures Brain Changes in Near-real Time

Differences in stiffness between stimulus states. Image courtesy of Patz et al.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 19, 2019
An international team of researchers developed a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that can capture an...
ADHD Medication May Affect Brain Development in Children

Images of regions of interest (colored lines) in the white matter skeleton representation. Data from left and right anterior thalamic radiation (ATR) were averaged. Image courtesy of C. Bouziane et al.

News | Neuro Imaging | August 16, 2019
A drug used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appears to affect development of the brain’s...
Profound Medical Receives U.S. FDA 510(k) Clearance for Tulsa-Pro
Technology | Interventional Radiology | August 16, 2019
Profound Medical Corp. announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to...
First Patient Enrolled in World's Largest Brain Cancer Clinical Trial
News | Radiation Therapy | August 15, 2019
Henry Ford Cancer Institute is first-in-the-world to enroll a glioblastoma patient in the GBM AGILE Trial (Adaptive...