While heart attacks are usually caused by the narrowing or complete blockage of the coronary artery due to plaque buildup, plaque can also break loose, causing a clot blockage large enough to trigger a heart attack.
Different plaques have different composition, and not all plaques are prone to rupture. Fibrotic, or calcified, plaques, are more stable and less prone to rupture. Lipid Core Plaques (LCP), on the other hand, have thin fibrous caps, making them vulnerable to rupture.
Distinguishing between plaques of different composition is crucial for accurately predicting and managing a patient’s risk of new or recurring cardiovascular events. Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, or NIRS, technology can help interventional cardiologists determine not only a plaque’s structure, but its composition as well. The ability to identify dangerous plaques can help clinicians improve the prognosis of high-risk patients.
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