Researchers are working on perfecting a non invasive way to check for inflamed vessels and narrowing arteries which could also identify those most likely to suffer from cardiac conditions later on in life. The process uses a scale called the CT fat attenuation index (FAI) to help detect inflammation risks. It is done by looking at the appearance and makeup of fatty tissue surrounding the arteries and checking if the fat shows certain bio-markers that indicate the swelling of nearby arteries.

Currently heart disease affects 750,000 Americans annually and when it comes to heart attack patients 4 in 10 people do not survive. Right now most tests can only detect heart disease after the arteries have already started narrowing. What this means for patients is that they have less time to make changes and seek medical help treating or reversing the damage. If the new method is shown to be accurate early detection could save many lives. It will give patients the opportunity to take matters in their own hands and work on reversing issues through diet and exercise. Doctors are cautiously optimistic about the test saying they are enthused but there is still a long way to go. The results of a larger study are expected to be published sometime next year.

Key Points:

  • 1New technology allows for noninvasive detection of vascular inflammation, hailed as the “Holy Grail” of research.
  • 2New methods also allow for earlier detection in patients, vastly improving prognosis.
  • 3While preliminary findings are optimistic, much research still remains to be done.


Heart disease remains a big problem in the United States with an estimated 750,000 Americans experiencing a heart attack annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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