How Doctors Can Predict a Heart Attack Using One Simple Trick

Researchers say the color of fat near the heart's arteries can determine a patient's level of risk.

July 13, 2017 12:17 pm
Predicting Heart Attacks
New method of reading CT scans could predict heart attacks. (Getty Images)

There’s a new way to prognosticate dangerous palpitations.

Heart attacks can be predicted using a new method of examining routine scans, according to new research. The technique could help doctors treat patients more effectively, saving lives and decreasing medical bills.

Researchers say the color of fat near the heart’s arteries can determine a patient’s level of risk for a heart attack. The discoloration occurs when arteries with plaque build-up become inflamed, which is usually a precursor to a heart attack, The Guardian reports.

Scientists from Oxford University in the U.K. and Erlangen in Germany found that inflamed arteries appear with a yellow and black pattern on CT scans, while healthy ones do not. A PET scan confirmed their findings, which is a more accurate and expensive scan. The research, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed the arteries “cooling off” with recovery time after a heart attack.

In the United States, 750,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. Half of those people die before reaching the hospital. By identifying the highest risk patients, doctors can help give them preventative care and encourage lifestyle changes to avoid an emergency room visit.

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