Atherosclerosis is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease worldwide and a major cause of death. Fatty streaks in arterial walls gradually develop into atheroma and eventually vulnerable plaques. The acute rupture of these atheromatous plaques causes local thrombosis, leading to partial or total occlusion of the affected artery. Its major clinical manifestations include ischemic heart disease (IHD), ischaemic stroke, and peripheral arterial disease (PAD). Despite a decline in both IHD and stroke mortality rates in most high-income countries since the middle of the 20th century, IHD remains the leading cause of premature adult mortality worldwide. The UK prevalence of angina is 9% in men and 5% in women at age 65 to 74. The incidence of IHD, stroke or PAD increases with age. The Oxford Vascular Study, a community-based study, demonstrated that in the UK the incidence of ischaemic stroke increases from 35 per 100,000 per year at age 35-44 to 952 per 100,000 at age 75-84. Compared with IHD and stroke, PAD (which includes arterial disease of the lower extremity, renal, mesenteric, and abdominal aortic territories) is a relatively rare cause of mortality, accounting for only ~1 – 2% of cardiovascular deaths globally in 2013. However, lower extremity PAD is a common cause of morbidity, which may result in reduced mobility, intermittent claudication, critical limb ischemia, and acute limb ischemia.
Our theme strategy is to develop, translate and adopt novel technologies that will lead to an improvement in the identification and management of subject at increased risk of developing atherosclerosis or its complications. Our team will work closely with industrial partners and patients representatives with the aim to:
- Early diagnosis of atherosclerosis (the presence of subclinical atherosclerosis is a predictor of cardiovascular events)
- Identify new imaging and biomarkers associated with the presence, progression and complication of atherosclerosis, leading to better risk stratification
- Quantification of atherosclerotic burden non-invasively, to enable the evaluation of the efficacy of different treatments on delaying the progression and potentially in reversing atherosclerosis
- Understand the underlying mechanisms of plaque progression on patient-specific models, in order to make more informed decisions about timescales, potential interventions, available treatments and lifestyle changes (personalization of treatment)