Atherosclerosis can lead to strokes and heart attacks. This happens when calcium deposits clog the arteries and reduce the oxygen flow. Bow, researchers say that thanks to a new imaging techniques, they can detect these deposits much sooner. The researchers from the Edinburgh and Cambridge, in the United Kingdom, said that they can use a radioactive agent that was developed to detect bone cancer in the 60s. The study leader was Dr. Anthony Davenport. He said that this is the only technique that can detect early stages of deposits in the arteries.
This technique uses sodium fluoride tagged with a radioactive tracer (a very small amount). It will help doctors diagnose atherosclerosis and develop new drugs against it. Atherosclerosis can be dangerous on many different ways. Just one of them is that fatty deposits, also known as plaques, harden and reduce the blood flow in the arteries. This means that our organs don’t receive enough nutrition and oxygen. In some cases, there deposits may break. They clog an artery and cause heart attack or a stroke. 

Doctors understand that atherosclerosis can be responsible for serious health issues. However, they don’t know which people may develop unstable plaques. This, new technique, may improve the diagnosis and treatment.  

Researchers injected patients with 18F-NaF (sodium fluoride). Then, they used imaging techniques to trace the radioactive tracer. Sodium fluoride binds to the calcium. It can be even found in a toothpaste. But it also binds to the calcium deposits in the arteries. Researchers measured the radioactive levels in order to determine where the deposits will occur. This means that patients with this condition may start with the treatment much sooner.