MRI may predict heart attack and stroke risk in people with diabetes

September 10, 2013

Whole-body MRI may serve as a valuable noninvasive tool for assessing the risk of heart attack and stroke in diabetic patients, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

Diabetes is a characterized by an increased concentration of glucose in the blood. There are 347 million diabetic worldwide, and the World Health Organization projects that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

Patients with diabetes are known to develop atherosclerosis, or thickening of the arterial walls, at an accelerated rate, resulting in a higher incidence of major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events (MACCE), such as a heart attack or stroke. However, there are wide variations in the degree of risk for among diabetic patients.

In recent years, whole-body MRI has emerged as a promising means to assess the cardiovascular systems of people with diabetes.

"One of the major advantages of whole-body MRI in this population is that the technique itself is not associated with , and larger body areas can be covered without increased risk, especially in younger patients," said Fabian Bamberg, M.D., M.P.H., from the Department of Radiology at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. "As such, MRI can be used to evaluate the whole-body degree of disease burden that is not clinically apparent yet."

Dr. Bamberg and colleagues studied the of whole-body MRI for the occurrence of MACCE in 65 patients with diabetes. The patients underwent a contrast-enhanced whole-body MRI protocol, including brain, cardiac and vascular sequences. The researchers then conducted follow-up inquiries to assess the rate of MACCE in the study group.

Follow-up information was available for 61 patients. After a median of 5.8 years, 14 patients had experienced MACCE. Patients who had detectable vascular changes on whole-body MRI faced a cumulative MACCE risk rate of 20 percent at three years, and 35 percent at six years. None of the patients with a normal whole-body MRI went on to experience MACCE.

The findings point to a role for whole-body MRI as an accurate prognostic tool for diabetic patients that could speed effective treatments to those at risk, Dr. Bamberg said.

"Whole-body MRI may help in identifying patients who are at very high risk for future events and require intensified treatment or observation," he said. "Conversely, the absence of any changes on whole-body MRI may reassure that their risk for a heart attack, stroke or other major cardiac or cerebrovascular event is low."

Along with its prognostic accuracy, whole-body MRI has other advantages over existing methods of determining risk, according to Dr. Bamberg.

"Other established and valuable tools, such as myocardial perfusion imaging or computed tomography (CT) for quantification of coronary calcification, are generally limited to cardiac evaluation due to their associated risk profiles," he said. "Also, MRI provides unique insights into soft tissue pathology, including cerebral and vascular changes, such as restriction of blood flow to the brain."

Dr. Bamberg said that while whole-body MRI is a relatively recent development that needs more study, the results so far are promising.

"Our study provides preliminary evidence that the technique may be beneficial for risk stratification in patients with diabetes," he said. "We anticipate that emerging study findings in different diabetic cohorts will provide additional scientific basis to establish whole-body MRI as a screening modality."

Explore further: Atherosclerosis in abdominal aorta may signal future heart attack, stroke

More information: "Diabetes Mellitus: Long-term Prognostic Value of Whole-Body MR Imaging for the Occurrence of Cardiac and Cerebrovascular Events," Radiology, 2013.

Related Stories

Atherosclerosis in abdominal aorta may signal future heart attack, stroke

June 18, 2013
In a study of more than 2,000 adults, researchers found that two MRI measurements of the abdominal aorta—the amount of plaque in the vessel and the thickness of its wall—are associated with future cardiovascular events, ...

Gout drug shown to benefit diabetes patients at risk of heart disease

August 29, 2013
New research carried out at the University of Dundee has led to the possibility of using an old drug to help prevent the biggest cause of death in Type II diabetes patients.

Low BMI is a risk factor for CVD in hypertensive patients with diabetes

September 3, 2013
Low BMI is a risk factor for CVD in hypertensive patients with diabetes, according to research presented at the ESC Congress today by Dr Takanori Nagahiro from Japan. The findings provide evidence for an obesity paradox in ...

Exercise benefits patients with type 2 diabetes

June 25, 2013
Moderate-intensity exercise reduces fat stored around the heart, in the liver and in the abdomen of people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, even in the absence of any changes in diet, according to a new study published online ...

MRI right before or after surgery does not benefit women with early breast cancer

September 4, 2013
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center study shows that the use of MRI before or immediately after surgery in women with DCIS was not associated with reduced local recurrence or contralateral breast cancer rates. The findings ...

Heart MRI test can identify patients at high risk of heart attack, death

August 20, 2013
An imaging test commonly used to diagnose coronary artery disease has an untapped potential to predict which patients with the disease are at the greatest risk for heart attacks and other potentially deadly heart problems, ...

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.