Currently, cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for nearly 50% of all deaths in all developed countries. But, there is still low public awareness of the risk factors involved, says the report. It states that one method crucial to putting an end to the growing mortality rate attributable to heart disease, is spotting susceptible people. This group includes those with areas of fatty deposits in the arteries, called vulnerable plaques. These individuals are seen as high-risk patients because the plaques can rupture leading to a second heart attack or stroke.
Authors of the report believe that in the future it could be possible that vulnerable plaques can be detected by non-invasive means. Biomarkers such as Lp-PLA2 and imaging technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are likely to be important in identifying vulnerable plaques.
They say that developments in medical technology have increased the accuracy of multislice computed tomography (MSCT) which enables the detection of coronary calcification and imaging of coronary artery wall with simply an injection of a contrast agent. The study says that both these systems are potential non-invasive detectors of vulnerable patients and plaques.
One difficulty with the emerging new methods is that plasma biomarkers are considered gizmos by some physicians who prefer to target atherosclerotic risk factors such as obesity and diabetes more traditionally by administration of aspirin, diet exercise and maintaining blood pressure. So plasma biomarkers are perceived as expensive as also non-specific, factors which restrict its use. Despite the drawbacks, analysts feel that it is just a matter of time before plasma biomarkers find their niche.
The study also points out that screening of atherosclerotic patients could lead to diagnostic difficulties. It would be unclear whether cardiac catheterization should be performed on individuals who have proved to be at high risk but have shown no cardiac symptoms as such, they claim.
The study analyses the current and future trends in the diagnosis and management of atherosclerosis.
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