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PET/CT offers 'superior' view of atherosclerosis plaque, may identify those at risk for heart attack

1 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease, which claims more lives than cancer, accidents and HIV (AIDS) combined.

This study benefits those individuals with carotid disease and opens the exploration of the biological questions of atherosclerosis and related heart diseases, said Tawakol. "This molecular imaging research opens the door for the testing of new and future therapies and the identification of promising new drugs," he added.

PET/CT imaging enables the collection of both biological and anatomical information during a single exam, with PET picking up metabolic signals of body cells and tissues and CT offering a detailed picture of internal anatomy. "We establish that PET in combination with CT is superior to PET alone for characterization of plaque inflammation," said Tawakol, explaining that the current study builds on prior observations that PET is useful in characterizing plaque formation. "There is a lot of interest in learning how to stabilize or pacify plaques, and we may be able to test this," he noted, saying additional research might determine if a cardiac event can be predicted by identifying plaque inflammation.

"This is very exciting work," said Josef Machac, SNM's Scientific Program Committee cardiovascular vice chair. "The idea is that atherosclerosis comes in different 'flavors,' and the challenge is to predict whether patients are at high risk for having a stroke or heart attack," added the director of the Clinical PET Center and nuclear medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He continued, "This research points the way by examining carotid plaque function from PET and its structure from CT."


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Contact: Maryann Verrillo
mverrillo@snm.org
703-708-9000
Society of Nuclear Medicine
5-Jun-2006


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