New technology can predict heart attacks years before

In a new study, researchers at the University of Oxford and collaborators have developed a new technology that can flag patients at risk of deadly heart attacks years before they occur.

The teach is built based on analysis of computed tomography (CT) coronary angiograms.

Every year, over 100,000 people die from a heart attack or related stroke in the UK alone, and heart disease and stroke remain the two biggest overall causes of death worldwide.

Heart attacks are usually caused by inflamed plaques in the coronary artery causing an abrupt blockage of blood getting to the heart.

The challenge for doctors is knowing which plaques are most likely to cause blockages, and therefore which patients should be treated with more aggressive therapies.

In the study, the new biomarker of the tech, called the Fat Attenuation Index (FAI), has been tested for the first time.

The research examined 3,900 patients from Europe (Erlangen, Germany) and the United States (Cleveland Clinic).

These people were followed up for ten years after they had a CT coronary angiogram.

The technology was found to predict fatal heart attacks many years before they happen, with a very high 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.

Importantly, these patients would be the ideal candidates for aggressive medical therapy to prevent this from happening.

The team suggests with this new technology, clinicians would be able to identify those at risk of having a fatal heart attack in the next few years and take preventative steps before it strikes.

The University of Oxford has formed a spinout company which has an exclusive license to develop the FAI as a Software-as-a-Service offering.

This will be the vehicle that brings it to the healthcare sector to positively influence patient care. More details will follow shortly.

Professor Charalambos Antoniades led the study at the University of Oxford’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

The finding is published in The Lancet journal.

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Source: The Lancet.