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First-of-Its-Kind Technology Detects ‘Invisible’ Risk of Heart Disease from Routine Cardiac CT Scans

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 14 Jul 2023
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Image: CaRi-Heart technology raises the bar for CAD management by quantifying both coronary inflammation and plaque (Photo courtesy of Caristo Diagnostics)
Image: CaRi-Heart technology raises the bar for CAD management by quantifying both coronary inflammation and plaque (Photo courtesy of Caristo Diagnostics)

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), the leading cause of death globally, often remains undetected until it's too late. For many years, cardiologists have understood that inflammation is a key factor driving the onset of CAD and plaque rupture. However, existing diagnostic tests do not reliably detect it. Now, a cutting-edge image analysis technology can identify and measure the invisible signs of inflammation in routine CT heart scans.

Caristo Diagnostics’ (Oxford, UK) CaRi-Heart technology can detect coronary inflammation as well as atherosclerosis (plaque) using standard cardiac CT scans. The CaRi-Heart report quantifies coronary inflammation through a unique and patented biomarker called the Fat Attenuation Index Score (FAI Score), which is specific to each patient and measured for each coronary artery. Additionally, the CaRi-Heart report provides the CaRi-Heart Risk, which evaluates the overall eight-year risk of a fatal heart attack (based on coronary inflammation status, plaque, and clinical risk factors). Research studies have demonstrated that abnormal FAI is linked to a 6-9 times higher risk for fatal heart attacks and a 5 times higher risk for non-fatal heart attacks.

CaRi-Heart's newest product feature, the CaRi-Plaque module, is a web-based software medical device designed for trained operators to analyze cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) data for the characterization and quantification of coronary plaque components. Trained operators can use the CaRi-Plaque module to generate a report describing the physical characteristics of coronary plaque powered by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. By combining proprietary measurements of coronary artery inflammation and plaque characteristics, with other clinical risk factors, CaRi-Heart can accurately predict an individual’s risk of heart attack to guide therapy.

"Inflammation plays an important part in the development of atherosclerosis and is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease progression and events," said Professor Keith Channon, Caristo Diagnostics Chief Medical Officer, "Previously, chest pain clinics have returned most patients back to primary care without a defined prevention or treatment pathway. With coronary inflammation and plaque evaluation provided by the CaRi-Heart analysis, the clinical team will be able to use the additional information to identify at-risk patients more effectively and optimize their treatment, so future cardiac events can be prevented."

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