Researchers say they have developed technology that could predict heart attacks years before they happen.
The researchers report using mathematical algorithms to examine computed tomography, or CT, images of a patient's heart. A CT scan uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed pictures of bones, organs and other tissue inside the body.
The new method was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford in England. A report on their study was published in the medical journal The Lancet. Also taking part in the study were teams from Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen, Germany, and the Cleveland Clinic in the United States.
Most heart attacks result from a build-up of fatty tissue inside arteries that carry blood from the heart to other areas of the body. Too much buildup can block this flow of blood and cause a heart attack.
Currently, doctors use CT scans to learn when a sticky substance called plaque has already built up inside an artery. The new technology is designed to predict which arteries are at risk for future buildup.
The researchers reported using computer algorithms to examine CT scans to measure how much fat is present around heart arteries. That fat changes when an artery becomes inflamed, serving as an early warning system for heart attacks.
Charalambos Antoniades is a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Oxford University. He told the Reuters news agency he believes the research shows this method could be very effective in getting patients to take early steps to prevent future problems.
"Say your arteries are inflamed and a narrowing will be developed five years down the line. So maybe you can start preventive measures to avoid this formation of plaques," he said.
"If you are able to identify inflammation in the arteries of the heart, then you can say which arteries...will cause heart attacks."
Antoniades added that researchers had yet to estimate exactly how many heart attacks could be prevented. But he said he believes the technique could help identify between 20 to 30 percent of people at risk of having one.
He added that the new technology will make such predictions easier because it works together with existing CT technology.
The research was based on two large, independent studies of 4,000 patients in Erlangen, Germany, and the Cleveland Clinic.
A company with ties to Oxford University is developing a service to examine CT scans of patients around the world, Reuters reported.
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研究人员在报告中指出，他们利用数学算法来检查患者心脏的计算机断层扫描（简称CT）图像 。CT扫描利用X射线和计算机来生成骨骼、器官和身体内部其他组织的详细图像 。
这种新方法由英国牛津大学的研究人员研发 。他们的研究报告发表在医学期刊《柳叫刀》上 。另外，来自德国埃尔朗根-纽伦堡大学和克利夫兰医学中心的团队也参与了这项研究 。
大多数心脏病发作是由动脉内的脂肪组织堆积引起的，而动脉的功能是将心脏的血液输送到身体其他部位 。脂肪堆积过多会阻碍血液流动并引发心脏病 。
目前，医生用CT扫描来了解粘性物质斑块何时在动脉里堆积 。而这项新技术旨在预测哪些动脉未来可能会发生堵塞 。
研究人员表示，利用计算机算法检查CT扫描，目的是测量目前心脏动脉周围的脂肪含量 。动脉发炎时脂肪含量会发生变化，这可以作为心脏病预警系统 。
查拉姆博斯·安东妮亚迪斯是牛津大学的心血管学科教授 。他在接受路透社的采访时表示，他认为这项研究表明，这种方法在让患者提早采取措施来防范未来问题方面会非常有效 。
他说，“假如你的动脉发炎了，可能会在五年后演变成动脉狭窄 。那也许你可以开始采取预防性措施，避免斑块的形成 。”
安东妮亚迪斯还表示，目前研究人员还没有准确估算出有多少心脏病可以避免 。但是他表示，他相信这种技术可以帮助识别出20%到30%可能会心脏病发的患者 。