November 17, 2014 – Plaque Risk


Anchor lead: No amount of plaque in the heart’s arteries is really safe, Elizabeth Tracey reports

People with any degree of plaque buildup in the arteries in their heart are at increased risk for cardiovascular events, a recent study found.  Michael Blaha, a preventive cardiology expert at Johns Hopkins, describes the findings.

Blaha: This study is very important because we used to always emphasize plaques that obstructed the coronary arteries.  But this study teaches us that plaque that’s present but doesn’t obstruct the arteries  is still risky and can lead to heart attacks and strokes and death later on.  This is showing us that even those intermediate blockages, that we might not have gotten excited about in the past still portend risk and still we should treat patients who have these blockages to prevent future heart attack.  :27

Blaha says that the  number of vessels with plaque in them as well as the reduction in blood flow are both important factors that are related to how much risk exists, and he urges assessment for most people as they age or have heart disease in their family.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.