Scientists have devised a way to scan for fatty deposits that cause heart attacks, bringing accurate prediction of risk one step closer.
The breakthrough allows doctors to identify "ticking time bomb" patients by detecting fatty deposits in arteries and administering drugs before an attack takes place.
It has been described by experts as a major step towards accurately predicting heart attacks and relies on technology used in cancer diagnosis which is already found in many hospitals.
The discovery was made in a study researching whether a scanner could pick up the outlines of fatty "plaques" in arteries. The results are published in 'The Lancet' today.
Scientists tested two groups of patients – 40 people who had just suffered heart attacks and 40 others who had angina – and found the scans picked up affected areas.
Problem points in blood vessels were highlighted on images of 90pc of those scanned who recently suffered a heart attack. Close to half of the scans of patients with angina also successfully detected the fatty build-ups. The study is significant because there is no current way to find those people at highest risk from heart attacks.
"We have developed what we hope is a way to 'light up' plaques on the brink of rupturing and causing a heart attack," explained researcher Dr Marc Dweck. (© Daily Telegraph, London)