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Introduction

  • Paolo Raggi
    Correspondence
    Address for reprints: Paolo Raggi, MD, Preventive Cardiology Section, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, 1430 Tulane Avenue-SL 48, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112
    Affiliations
    Preventive Cardiology Section, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
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      Despite the reduction in mortality rates achieved during the past decade, the continuing epidemic of cardiovascular morbidity underscores the need for better detection and prevention programs to affect the natural history of the disease. Although conventional risk factors are helpful to estimate cardiovascular risk, by themselves they are often insufficient to completely assess the risk in an individual patient. Therefore, additional information regarding the initiation, development, and extent of the atherosclerotic process in the arterial wall may add considerably to our ability to interfere with the current cardiovascular disease epidemic. For many years physicians have been concerned with the diagnosis, quantification, and care of obstructive coronary artery disease. It has become evident, however, that the total burden of atherosclerotic disease rather than the severity of focal stenosis carries the most substantial prognostic weight for the development of events. As a consequence, modern noninvasive imaging technologies, able to detect atherosclerotic disease in the vessel wall and not concerned with the quantification of luminal stenosis, have elicited a strong interest in the medical community. The expectation is that they may improve our risk stratification ability once the information derived with these tools is added to conventional risk factors for atherosclerosis.
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