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      Imaging of High-Risk Plaque

      Cardiology

      S. Karger AG

      Vulnerable, Plaque, Imaging, Unstable, Coronary

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          Abstract

          ‘High-risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ plaques in the coronary arteries have characteristics that make them more prone to disruption and subsequent thrombosis – the mechanisms of most acute coronary syndromes (ACS). There are a number of imaging modalities that are capable of visualizing these features. This article discusses invasive modalities for identifying ‘high-risk’ plaque such as intravascular ultrasound, coronary angioscopy, optical coherence tomography, near-infrared spectroscopy and coronary thermography. It also discusses the use of noninvasive modalities such as computed tomography MRI and ultrasound. When these imaging modalities are combined with standard cardiac risk factors and more novel markers of systemic inflammation and thrombogenicity we can improve our ability to identify the ‘high-risk’ patient.

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          Most cited references 34

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          Imaging Atherosclerotic Plaque Inflammation With [ 18 F]-Fluorodeoxyglucose Positron Emission Tomography

          Atherosclerotic plaque rupture is usually a consequence of inflammatory cell activity within the plaque. Current imaging techniques provide anatomic data but no indication of plaque inflammation. The glucose analogue [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG) can be used to image inflammatory cell activity non-invasively by PET. In this study we tested whether 18FDG-PET imaging can identify inflammation within carotid artery atherosclerotic plaques. Eight patients with symptomatic carotid atherosclerosis were imaged using 18FDG-PET and co-registered CT. Symptomatic carotid plaques were visible in 18FDG-PET images acquired 3 hours post-18FDG injection. The estimated net 18FDG accumulation rate (plaque/integral plasma) in symptomatic lesions was 27% higher than in contralateral asymptomatic lesions. There was no measurable 18FDG uptake into normal carotid arteries. Autoradiography of excised plaques confirmed accumulation of deoxyglucose in macrophage-rich areas of the plaque. This study demonstrates that atherosclerotic plaque inflammation can be imaged with 18FDG-PET, and that symptomatic, unstable plaques accumulate more 18FDG than asymptomatic lesions.
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            Multiple complex coronary plaques in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

            Acute myocardial infarction is believed to be caused by rupture of an unstable coronary-artery plaque that appears as a single lesion on angiography. However, plaque instability might be caused by pathophysiologic processes, such as inflammation, that exert adverse effects throughout the coronary vasculature and that therefore result in multiple unstable lesions. To document the presence of multiple unstable plaques in patients with acute myocardial infarction and determine their influence on outcome, we analyzed angiograms from 253 patients for complex coronary plaques characterized by thrombus, ulceration, plaque irregularity, and impaired flow. Single complex coronary plaques were identified in 153 patients (60.5 percent) and multiple complex plaques in the other 100 patients (39.5 percent). As compared with patients with single complex plaques, those with multiple complex plaques were less likely to undergo primary angioplasty (86.0 percent vs. 94.8 percent, P = 0.03) and more commonly required urgent bypass surgery (27.0 percent vs. 5.2 percent, P < or = 0.001). During the year after myocardial infarction, the presence of multiple complex plaques was associated with an increased incidence of recurrent acute coronary syndromes (19.0 percent vs. 2.6 percent, P < or = 0.001); repeated angioplasty (32.0 percent vs. 12.4 percent, P < or = 0.001), particularly of non-infarct-related lesions (17.0 percent vs. 4.6 percent, P < or = 0.001); and coronary-artery bypass graft surgery (35.0 percent vs. 11.1 percent, P < or = 0.001). Patients with acute myocardial infarction may harbor multiple complex coronary plaques that are associated with adverse clinical outcomes. Plaque instability may be due to a widespread process throughout the coronary vessels, which may have implications for the management of acute ischemic heart disease.
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              Widespread coronary inflammation in unstable angina.

              Inflammation within vulnerable coronary plaques may cause unstable angina by promoting rupture and erosion. In unstable angina, activated leukocytes may be found in peripheral and coronary-sinus blood, but it is unclear whether they are selectively activated in the vascular bed of the culprit stenosis. We measured the content neutrophil myeloperoxidase content in the cardiac and femoral circulations in five groups of patients: two groups with unstable angina and stenosis in either the left anterior descending coronary artery (24 patients) or the right coronary artery (9 patients); 13 with chronic stable angina; 13 with variant angina and recurrent ischemia; and 6 controls. Blood samples were taken from the aorta, the femoral vein, and the great cardiac vein, which selectively drains blood from the left but not the right coronary artery. The neutrophil myeloperoxidase content of aortic blood was similar in both groups of patients with unstable angina (-3.9 and -5.5, with negative values representing depletion of the enzyme due to neutrophil activation) and significantly lower than in the other three groups (P<0.05). Independently of the site of the stenosis, the neutrophil myeloperoxidase content in blood from the great cardiac vein was significantly decreased in both groups of patients with unstable angina (-6.4 in those with a left coronary lesion and -6.6 in those with a right coronary lesion), but not in patients with stable angina and multiple stenoses, patients with variant angina and recurrent ischemia, or controls. There was also a significant transcoronary reduction in myeloperoxidase content in both groups with unstable angina. The widespread activation of neutrophils across the coronary vascular bed in patients with unstable angina, regardless of the location of the culprit stenosis, challenges the concept of a single vulnerable plaque in unstable coronary syndromes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                CRD
                Cardiology
                10.1159/issn.0008-6312
                Cardiology
                S. Karger AG
                0008-6312
                1421-9751
                2003
                December 2003
                16 January 2004
                : 100
                : 4
                : 160-175
                Affiliations
                Cardiology Fellow, Mount Sinai Hospital, The Zena and Michael A. Weiner Cardiovascular Institute, New York, N.Y., USA
                Article
                74810 Cardiology 2003;100:160–175
                10.1159/000074810
                14713728
                © 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Figures: 10, References: 91, Pages: 16
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