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Researchers at the University of Oxford have developed a new type of MRI scan to predict the risk of having a stroke, thanks to funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Image credit: Martin Phelps

The non-invasive technique, described in a paper published in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging, produces a quantitative result that can accurately indicate whether plaques in the carotid arteries – those that supply the brain with blood - are rich in cholesterol, and therefore more likely to cause a stroke.

The rupture of fatty plaques can block the arteries and cause potentially debilitating and life-threatening strokes as the brain is starved of oxygen. There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year, around a quarter of which are caused by carotid plaques.

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