New metric aims to predict aortic aneurysms

An image of a thoracic aorta with normal blood flow and abnormal growth.

Aneurysms that occur in the main artery that takes blood away from the heart to support circulation throughout the body are uncommon, but can be fatal. This is why researchers created a metric to identify people with increased risks for having an aortic aneurysm. The benefit of this calculation, they shared, is to detect risks for ruptures that are often silent until they occur. 

After studying 4D heart scans from adults with and without underlying heart issues, the researchers used physics to create a risk score. The metric assesses how easily blood flows through the aortic artery based on stiffness of the artery wall, blood flow and pulse rate, pressure within the artery, and size or abnormal growth of the aorta. A score below zero indicates stable blood flow and signals minimal risks. Scores above zero indicate unstable blood flow. The researchers envision this information could help doctors monitoring patients with increased risks for aortic aneurysms and in making treatment decisions. 

The research was supported by NHLBI and published in Nature Biomedical Engineering

Media Coverage

Digital Journal
Tech Explorist
Northwestern Now