A new study suggests that diabetes patients may be at a higher risk for stroke due to harboring advanced vascular disease, and that arterial imaging with 3D MRI could help determine stroke risk in diabetes patients.
Data from the study is slated to be presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting next week.
“A recent analysis of multiple studies has shown that people with carotid artery narrowing and IPH have a 5- to 6-times higher risk of stroke in the near future compared to people without,” study author Dr. Tishan Maraj of Sunnybrook Research Institute said in prepared remarks.
For the study, researchers used 3D MRI to examine the carotid arteries for evidence of intraplaque hemorrhage in patients with diabetes. Study authors looked to investigate the prevalence of IPH, an indicator for atherosclerotic disease, in 159 type 2 diabetes patients.
Of the patients imaged with 3D MRI, 37, or 23.3%, had IPH in at least 1 carotid artery, and 5 of those patients had IPH in both carotid arteries.
“It was surprising that so many diabetic patients had this feature. We already knew that people with diabetes face 3 to 5 times the risk of stroke, so perhaps IPH is an early indicator of stroke risk that should be followed up,” Dr. Maraj said in a press release.
Maraj said that imaging with 3D MRI brought an “extra level of imaging power,” in examining carotid artery placks over 2D MRI.
“The advantage of 3-D MRI is you can image the entire carotid artery and pinpoint the area of interest over a shorter period of time compared with multiple 2-D sequences,” Maraj said.
The study did not examine outcomes for patients and could not conclude whether patients with IPH will develop carotid artery blockages more quickly, but said blood is a “destabilizing factor of plaque that promotes rupture, setting off a chain of events that can lead to a stroke.”
“Even though you can’t treat IPH, you can monitor patients a lot more closely,” Maraj said.