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Technology allows physicians to predict likelihood of strokes

Baptist Health Lexington study involves looking inside blood vessels

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 22, 2014) — A Baptist Health Lexington study utilizes new technology that allows physicians to look inside blood vessels to predict whether or not a patient is going to have a stroke.

bloodcellsThis technology, which allows users peer into the composition of any plaque — the fatty build-up that can obstruct the blood vessels that feed the brain and cause a stroke — has the potential to alter how physicians understand and treat carotid artery disease, which is one of the leading causes of strokes

The study, conducted between September 2010 and May 2012, was featured in the June 2014 issue of the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) Cardiovascular Interventions.

The study involved a retrospective review of 53 patients suspected of having carotid artery stenosis, a narrowing caused by the build-up of plaque. The patients underwent diagnostic carotid angiography, a standard imaging technique used to detect carotid artery stenosis. They also underwent OCT, a new, high-frequency imaging technique that creates images 10 times clearer than older imaging techniques.

Patients involved in the study were either symptomatic — had experienced symptoms suggestive of a stroke — or were asymptomatic – had experienced no symptoms suggestive of a stroke but were considered at high risk for a stroke due to certain risk factors.

The study revealed that symptomatic patients had a larger percentage of unstable or vulnerable plaque but actually less blockage when compared to the plaque found in vessels of asymptomatic patients.

It has long been thought that opening carotid arteries severely narrowed by plaque — either with surgery or a stent — is one of the most effective ways to prevent stroke.