Date: 21st March 2019
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), including coronary and rheumatic heart disease, are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide with the World Health Organisation estimating that 17.9 Million people die from CVDs each year, accounting for approximately 31% of all deaths worldwide and key to reducing morbidity and mortality of these is prevention through healthier lifestyles and risk identification, and earlier detection.
Coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels surrounding the heart – tops the list of CVDs and is primarily caused by stenosis; a decrease in the blood flow through the arteries due to plaque deposits. Critical to the early detection of stenosis is the measurement of blood flow in patients, however, current methods including CT or MRI scanning, often suffer have limitations in this with resolution, real-time imaging and the use of strong magnetic fields; which itself may be a risk factor for patients.
To address this, researchers in Germany have developed a novel non-invasive approach to measuring blood flow called Magnetic Microsphere Tracking which reads the speed of passage and magnetic signature of magnetic microspheres (MM) travelling through a vessel and so is able to able to infer variations within vessels typical of stenosis.
With advances in resolution without the need for radiation or strong magnetic fields this system offers the promise to improve the both improve the diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and give us a better understand of the intricacies of the arterial system.
Liebl, M., B. Gleich, D. Eberbeck, P. Radon, J. Rahmer, L. Trahms and F. Wiekhorst (2019). “Noninvasive monitoring of blood flow using a single magnetic microsphere.” Scientific Reports 9(1): 5014.