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What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease affects the heart and blood vessels and includes conditions such as angina and myocardial infarction (commonly known as a heart attack). According to the World Health Organisation,1 cardiovascular diseases are the leading worldwide cause of death.

By BruceBlaus from Wikimedia Commons

Inflammation is an Underlying Cause of Cardiovascular Disease

Angina and heart attack are caused by build-up of fatty deposits inside the arteries supplying the heart with blood (known as the coronary arteries), causing them to progressively narrow. These fatty deposits, also known as plaques, can abruptly rupture, leading to a blockage that causes a heart attack, even when the plaque was not significantly narrowing the artery. Indeed, around half of all heart attacks occur in arteries that were not seriously or significantly narrowed the day before the event.2  

 

The likelihood of a plaque rupture leading to a heart attack is driven by the presence of inflammation in the coronary arteries, even when tests do not reveal significant narrowings, so that even the rupture of a small plaque could be deadly. Because current coronary artery CT scans only detect the degree of narrowing, they are at best incomplete. At worst, they might miss a dangerously inflamed plaque which could rupture at any moment, causing a heart attack or death.

A New Way to Measure Coronary Artery Inflammation and Predict Future Heart Attacks

Caristo’s technology is based on a new scientific discovery: that the fat tissue surrounding the coronary arteries changes in response to inflammation inside the arteries.  This change can be detected by our new, patented method for analysing the data produced in a routine test called Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA), producing a new measure called the Fat Attenuation Index (FAI) which accurately quantifies the extent of inflammation in the coronary arteries supplying the heart. Scientific studies have shown the following:

Normal Perivascular Fat

Effect of Inflammation on Perivascular Fat

  • changes in FAI can be detected BEFORE narrowings have appeared in the coronary arteries

 

  • having an abnormal FAI is highly predictive of your future risk of having a heart attack or dying from a cardiac-related condition3
We analyse a picture of the heart generated in a routine CT scan to measure FAI.
We analyse a picture of the heart generated in a routine CT scan to measure FAI.

FAI can be measured on a routine heart scan

CCTA (Cardiac Computed Tomography Angiography) is a non-invasive test that is routinely used by doctors throughout the world to look at your coronary arteries.  CCTA has been recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)4 as the first-line investigation for patients with stable chest pain. The beauty of Caristo’s technology is that FAI can be measured on any CCTA. You don’t need to have another test. You or your doctor can simply send us the CCTA that you have already had, and we can analyse it for you.