At last, a new device to help those with coronary heart disease. Coronary arteries are the main blood vessels which supply your heart muscles with their well-needed blood rich in oxygen. Unfortunately, these blood vessels can get clogged up by deposits of plaques. Plaques are made up of cholesterol-rich fat molecules, calcium and cellular debris in the blood. Plaque deposits can cause the coronary arteries to get narrow and can damage blood vessel walls, or cut off blood supply to the heart. Plaques can be classified in two categories:
- Hard plaques tend to stay in play and make arterial walls thick, hard, and inflexible – resulting in atherosclerosis.
- Soft plaques are more unstable and have lipid cores . These fatty deposits on arterial walls have the tendency to rupture or break off and get carried by the blood flow. They are then transported to other parts of the body can cause blood clots and result in a partial or total obstruction of an artery and cut off the blood supply to tissues and to vital organs such as the brain, the liver, or the kidney. When fatty plaques in the coronary artery rupture, blood clots can form which can lead to heart attacks.
Last month, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approved the marketing of the InfraReDx LipiScan NIR Catheter Imaging System. It is the first device that can help doctors in their diagnosis by assessing the chemical make-up of coronary artery plaques.
The device is cleared for use by physicians who are evaluating patients with symptoms of coronary heart disease during a heart test known as cardiac angiography, to help in detection of plaques that have lipid (fatty) cores,
according to the FDA.
How does this new device work?
InfraReDx LipiScan NIR Catheter Imaging System works as follows:
- It uses infrared imaging to detect and assess the plaques of interest.
- It places a catheter equipped with a fiber-optic laser light into the artery.
- It shines the light delivered through the blood to the artery wall and measures the light reflected back from the wall, a technique called spectroscopy.
- The measurement helps doctors determine how much fatty plaque build up is in the artery.
LipiScan is manufactured by InfraReDx Inc. of Burlington, Mass.
With this new diagnostic tool, doctors may be able to detect soft unstable plaques with lipid cores, estimate better a patient’s risk for a heart attack and recommend preventive measures and treatment early on.