A new sort of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is been developed by a team of scientists that can precisely estimate the risk of life-threatening strokes. The research team at the University of Oxford, the United Kingdom, has created a non-invasive method that can correctly specify whether plaques present in the carotid arteries—the one through which blood is supplied to the brain—are loaded in cholesterol, and consequently more prone to cause a stroke.
The fatty plaques’ rupture can obstruct the arteries and result in potentially life-threatening and debilitating strokes since the brain is starved of oxygen. Presently, the risk of stroke is estimated by the plaque’s size present in the carotid artery. If it is estimated to be too large, individuals are treated surgically to do away with it. Nonetheless, this technique can fail to spot fatty plaques that are small but have a high risk of bursting.
The new (MRI) method was designed to distinguish between the risky plaques that are more stable and the one that holds a lot of cholesterol. In the study, the research team utilized the new MRI scan to evaluate the cholesterol amount in the carotid plaques of around 26 individuals planned for surgery.
After the surgical removal of plaques, the team probed at the actual content of cholesterol in every plaque and discovered that the new method was correct and the more cholesterol they discovered inside the plaque, more was the risk. Luca Biasiolli, the University of Oxford, said, “When anyone visits a hospital because of suffering from a minor stroke, it is essential to know if the patient may be at risk of a stroke again, which can be fatal.”
Biasiolli further added, “Being capable of measuring cholesterol content in carotid plaques is, in fact, an exciting viewpoint, as this new MRI method can assist doctors to recognize patients at greater stroke risk and make more knowledgeable decisions on their therapies.”
British Heart Foundation’s Medical Director. Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, which part-funded the research, said, “This stimulating study opens up the opportunity that in the coming period we might be able to more precisely spot individuals with carotid plaques that are prone to rupture and result in a stroke. These individuals can then be treated before—for instance, with surgery to get rid of the—whereas others may be spared from surgery. More research is now essential prior to getting this technique into regular clinical practice. Nevertheless, if booming, this method has the promise to save lives.”