, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 781-790
Date: 24 Jun 2010

The role of noninvasive imaging in promoting cardiovascular health

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, and its prevalence is likely to increase in the near future. The morbidity and mortality associated with CVD causes an enormous economic burden, which has become a major problem for many societies across the globe. The current prevention strategies are aimed at identifying and reducing established risk factors for atherosclerosis including hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, obesity, smoking, and sedentary lifestyle. However, some of our prevention goals, such as reducing LDL cholesterol, change dramatically once a subject has been diagnosed with coronary atherosclerosis. At the present time, atherosclerosis is frequently diagnosed relatively late in the course of the disease, when a patient develops symptoms or presents with acute events such as an acute coronary syndrome or a stroke. Several studies have demonstrated that novel noninvasive imaging techniques have the potential to identify subclinical atherosclerosis and high-risk plaques. Early detection of subclinical atherosclerosis may enable clinicians to improve the control of cardiovascular risk factors in affected patients earlier, thereby helping to prevent some of the manifestations of CVD.