New laser imaging technology helps predict the risk of stroke and heart attack

Author Ольга Кияница


The new diagnostic tool works on the basis of near infrared radiation. By means of the invention, the risk of a stroke or heart attack can be detected in patients.

The development was carried out by the commonwealth of higher education institutions WMG - Monash University, Baker Institute, University of Warwick. With the help of the presented tool, plaques are determined, which form the basis of the high risk of pathological formations.

"Unstable atherosclerotic plaques are the main discovery of autofluorescence, which is why they are considered very dangerous," says Dr. Tara Schiller of the University of Warwick and Dr. Carlheinz Peter of the Baker Institute. "The signal can only be obtained from these plaques."

In the course of the study, it was found that increasing the length of light emitted, which is now used to assess the live build-up of arteries, leads to selective identification of existing gaps and places with its presumed appearance. The presence of such areas leads to an increased risk of formation of blood clots. As a result, with time, a stroke or heart attack may develop.

According to the collected data of the American Heart Association for the past year in the United States, there were about 801 000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases. This group of pathologies is much more prevalent over the different forms of cancer and lower respiratory tract diseases combined.

Dr. Peter reports that when the light is carried out in the near infrared range, then the light is reflected at a particular wavelength. Therefore, scientists believe that laser light can be used to illuminate unstable plaques.

The products that caused this fluorescence were identified by combined scattering spectroscopy. It is believed that they are a mixture of hemoglobin products formed during the degradation of red blood cells.

These products were observed only in unstable patches with internal bleeding, while in more stable fatty deposits are absent. This helps to increase selectivity in the search for predisposing factors, which in turn can help doctors identify patients with a very high risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Modern imaging techniques can determine some characteristics of high-risk plaques, although no one has yet received widespread recognition as a reliable method for identifying dangerous plaques.

"Coronary angiography can detect narrow segments in the coronary artery, but it does not report inflamed and various similarities of fragments that are in the wall of the coronary arteries," Peter said.

The proposed new laser imaging technology should be tested in clinical trials, but if the results are promising, it can be used to assess unstable fatty arterial plaques. It also has the potential to monitor the effectiveness of drugs designed to prevent a heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Schiller added that they need to develop a technology that allows assessing the coronary arteries of patients. The current standard technique uses plaques removed from the carotid artery of patients who are considered to be live postoperative patients, but with an anonymous status.

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