Could a new scanner predict heart disease?

For individuals who have previous heart problems, coronary calcium scans are a popular method for determining if further follow-up care is required to protect against death and major disability. Unfortunately, the scan only detects an increase in calcium plaque in a person’s coronary arteries, which can lead to heart disease, and is controversial among cardiologists.

While the coronary calcium scan only detects an increase in calcium plaque in a person’s coronary arteries, it can point to danger signs and point to treatments

The C-Scan comes from Quanterix, Inc., a startup backed by a number of start-ups. As part of the UC study, Quanterix will offer open-label use of the scan to patients diagnosed with heart disease. In this clinical trial, the scans will be used to identify the frequency of calcium build-up and the potential consequence of disease before the patients undergo any coronary artery bypass surgery or repeat angioplasty.

Patients in the study will include 100 individuals age 50 and over with an average age of 74 years. These patients received a single coronary calcium scan for their first visit to the doctor, and will be followed up with a scan one, two, three, four and five years later. Thirty-seven patients who received a second scan two years ago will also be included in the study.

While many cardiologists are skeptical of the scanner, Quanterix founder Samuel Welch noted that the scan can actually identify patients at risk and direct them to follow-up care. In this study, he said the risk of death or major disability will double in the second scan.

For Quanterix, the single C-Scan is just the first of what may be a series of much larger C-Scan-related studies. The C-Scan is designed to work with a patient’s age, sex, age-matched health history, whether or not smoking, factors such as blood pressure, stroke risk, history of coronary heart disease and vascular changes in the left atrium.

Peter Schulte, a UC leader on the study and assistant professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, explained that Quanterix has developed an algorithm that can analyze the results of the C-Scan to determine which patients are most likely to need further follow-up care.

An algorithm intended to identify new patients at risk.

“We use a two-step technique,” said Schulte. “We do a simple analysis of the scans, then we use an algorithm to allow us to characterize patients over a long period of time, so we have predictive ability.”

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