(HealthDay News) — Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) aids in cardiovascular disease prediction by identifying vulnerable carotid plaque characteristics, according to a study published online March 4 in Radiology.

Anna E.H. Zavodni, MD, from the University of Toronto, and colleagues evaluated MRIs for carotid plaque composition and ultrasonography (US) for carotid wall thickness in 946 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Incident cardiovascular events were identified over an average of 5.5 years of follow-up.

The researchers found that cardiovascular events occurred in 59 participants (6%t). Significant predictors of events included carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), the MRI remodeling index, lipid core, and calcium in the internal carotid artery (P<0.001 for all). The C statistic for event prediction for traditional risk factors was 0.696, whereas for MRI remodeling index and lipid core, the C statistic was 0.734. The net reclassification improvement (NRI) was 7.4 and 15.8% for participants with and without cardiovascular events, respectively (P=0.02). For US IMT in addition to traditional risk factors, the NRI was not significant.

“The identification of vulnerable plaque characteristics with MRI aids in cardiovascular disease prediction and improves the reclassification of baseline cardiovascular risk,” the authors write.

One author has a related patent pending.

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