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Studying mice to help prevent heart attacks and stroke

Research from Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, has used animal imaging studies to identify when arteries become clogged with fatty substances, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

Plaques in blood vessels are the main cause of heart attack and stroke and when they rupture, they release material into the blood, clogging downstream arteries.

Using non-invasive imaging in mice, the team could detect plaques with much a higher resolution than diagnostic techniques currently used in the clinic.

This is of high significance for timely diagnostics in women where the plaques tend to be smaller than in male patients, but not less hazardous.

The findings led to clinical research in humans, where the same imaging technique was used. Such clinical studies depend on developing this imaging approach with animal models of vascular disease.

Legend: Highlighted plaque - bright red and purple scatter; Heart - yellow; Lining of thoracic cavity: dark blue (thoracic wall and dome of diaphragm).

“Animal imaging studies can translate into new clinical imaging methods, contributing to better diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis in patients, preventing heart attacks and stroke.”

Martje Fentener van Vlissingen, Head of the Erasmus MC Animal Research Facility

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