According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Each year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack and – for the vast majority – it’s their first, which means they’re likely unprepared for the event.
The CDC says knowing the warning signs can greatly increase your chance of surviving a heart attack. But what if there was a way to know you were likely to have a cardiac event before you started to show symptoms… even years before?
Researchers are attempting to do precisely that by developing a new method for analyzing a CT scan for risks that can often predict heart attacks.
Algorithms are used to identify deposits of fat and can determine whether that fat is being altered by inflammation that’s often a precursor to a cardiac event. The researchers – made up of teams from Oxford, as well as U.S. and German-based contributors – believe this warning system could effectively predict up to 30% of heart attacks.
The system takes an existing process and moves a bit further back. For example, doctors are already able to identify which arteries are narrowed by plaque. The new CT technology allows medical professionals to actually see which arteries are at risk of narrowing before they actually do.
If patients can get ahead of the narrowing, which interrupts critical blood flow, they can focus on preventative measures and perhaps offset or delay the plaque formation. According to Reuters, an Oxford spin-off is working to develop a service that can analyze the CT scans anywhere in the world and turn the results around within 24 hours.