Imaging detects risk of heart disease

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, coronary heart disease or heart failure are among the most common diseases and are the number one cause of death in this country. Researchers are now reporting on an imaging method that recognizes hazard patterns for such diseases.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in Germany and cause around 40 percent of all deaths. In addition, they are associated with considerable individual consequences of the disease and also cause high social disease costs. Researchers are now reporting on an imaging concept that recognizes hazard patterns for diseases of the cardiovascular system.

Hazard patterns made visible

As stated in a current communication from Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), the prediction of when atherosclerotic changes in the arteries in a stable state will lead to acute cardiovascular diseases has not yet been resolved.

The authors of the currently published in the journal “Nature Communications” around first author Prof. Dr. Ulrich Flögel, Institute for Molecular Cardiology, Medical Faculty of the HHU, present an imaging method – the targeted and multi-colored nanotracer platform technology – which makes the hazard patterns in the development of a progressive coronary disease visible in the mouse model.

The cascade of these vascular diseases ranges from inflammation of the vessel, thrombosis with subsequent detachment of the smallest particles of the vascular plaque to vascular occlusion with the consequence of permanent damage, for example, from myocardial infarction.

Identify risk before ECG indicates imminent danger

According to the experts, three molecules (ligands) – are coupled to different types of perfluorocarbon nanoemulsion to show the hazard patterns. These are specifically aimed at foci of inflammation, acute and chronic thrombi.

They are deposited there and become visible and distinguishable through the use of certain MRI imaging (19F-MRT).

This enables the scientists to identify areas that are at high risk of developing a heart attack. This happens at a point in time at which no conventional parameters in laboratory diagnostics or ECG indicate an impending danger.

Only a single MRI scan required

The researchers show that these patterns can be visualized reliably – and before the onset of the infarction – using the “multi-color multi-targeted ‘1H / 19F-MRT” procedure they have developed.

All that is required is a single MRT scan, which can localize the individually affected areas and differentiate them in terms of color with regard to inflammation, newly developed or advanced thrombi.

The endangered areas identified at an early stage in the individual (mouse model) can be quite different. It is important, however, that the corresponding massive consequential damage also occurred at these locations.

In further investigations, the researchers showed that the “multi-targeted 1H / 19F MRT procedure” is able to resolve the entire vicious circle of platelet adhesion, infiltration of immune cells and the formation of thrombi that lead to coronary atherothrombosis, heart attack and more severe Worsening of the ventricular function, clearly visible. (ad)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf: Imaging concept recognizes hazard patterns for cardiovascular diseases, (accessed: October 13, 2021), Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
  • Ulrich Flögel, Sebastian Temme, Christoph Jacoby, Thomas Oerther, Petra Keul, Vera Flocke, Xiaowei Wang, Florian Bönner, Fabian Nienhaus, Karlheinz Peter, Jürgen Schrader, Maria Grandoch, Malte Kelm & Bodo Levkau: Multi-targeted 1H / 19F MRI unmasks specific danger patterns for emerging cardiovascular disorders; in: Nature Communications, (published: October 6, 2021), Nature Communications
  • Robert Koch Institute: Cardiovascular Diseases, (accessed: October 13, 2021), Robert Koch Institute

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.


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