At a Glance
Strokes and Heart attacks are…
The leading causes of death and long-term disability worldwide
Kills 1 Canadian every 7 minutes
Costs the Canadian health care system more than $21 billion each year
Blockage is limiting, and physicians are worried
that surgical intervention puts people more at risk
Most heart attacks and strokes are caused by atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries that provide blood to the heart and brain. The rupture of unstable atherosclerotic plaques (also known as a high-risk or vulnerable plaques) in the internal carotid artery is one of the main etiological factors that causes severe and potentially life-threatening cerebrovascular events. Similarly, the most common cause of a heart attack is the rupture of an unstable atherosclerotic plaque that forms in the coronary arteries.
Current clinical guidelines are limiting
Current clinical guidelines recommend surgical intervention of plaques (removal or stenting) based solely on the degree of artery blockage (≥50%) caused by the plaque. However, blockage alone is an inaccurate and incomplete determinant of stroke or heart attack risk, thus, leading to misdiagnosis, risk of overtreating and undertreating patients surgically, and an unnecessary waste of healthcare resources due to inappropriate treatment allocation. Many plaques causing high-grade blockage remain stable and asymptomatic, while unstable and potentially dangerous plaques often cause moderate or even low-grade blockage.
What makes a plaque unstable?
Many plaques causing high-grade stenoses remain stable and asymptomatic (~40%), while unstable and potentially dangerous plaques often cause low-grade stenoses. Plaque composition is becoming increasingly recognized as a critical factor in determining cardiovascular risk to the patient. This includes analysis of features such as fibrosis, calcification, and lipid core.
Help us change the status quo
At PLAKK, we create tools to better research and diagnose atherosclerotic plaques. Together, we can improve how we predict, treat and prevent heart attacks and strokes.
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