Cardiovascular disease – the leading global ‘killer’ – will wipe out over seven million people this year. Perhaps this is not surprising in light of the fact that our bodies compartmentalise around 60,000 miles of blood vessels. Needless to say medical tools that facilitate earlier accurate diagnoses will save lives and money. Now researchers can combine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques with some clever mathematics to simultaneously measure the levels of oxygen and how fast blood travels. This cross section of a healthy human thigh is part of a study to improve early diagnosis of atherosclerosis, the main cause of cardiovascular disease (the right-hand box visualises the femoral artery in dark blue with the vein to its right in pink; the colour bar denotes oxygenation level). Atherosclerosis can remain silent for years. Early detection would be a major health benefit.
Written by Edwin Colyer
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