Imaging subclinical atherosclerosis: is it ready for prime time? A review

J Cardiovasc Transl Res. 2014 Oct;7(7):623-34. doi: 10.1007/s12265-014-9582-4. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Imaging subclinical atherosclerosis holds the promise of individualized cardiovascular (CV) risk assessment. The large arsenal of noninvasive imaging techniques available today is playing an increasingly important role in the diagnosis and monitoring of subclinical atherosclerosis. However, there is a debate about the advisability of clinical screens for subclinical atherosclerosis and which modality is the most appropriate for monitoring risk and atherosclerosis progression. This article offers an overview of the traditional and emerging noninvasive imaging modalities used to detect early atherosclerosis, surveys population studies addressing the value of subclinical atherosclerosis detection, and also examines guideline recommendations for their clinical implementation. The clinical relevance of this manuscript lies in the potential of current imaging technology to improve CV risk prediction based on traditional risk factors and the present recommendations for subclinical atherosclerosis assessment. Noninvasive imaging will also help to identify individuals at high CV who would benefit from intensive prevention or therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asymptomatic Diseases
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / physiopathology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / epidemiology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / pathology
  • Carotid Artery Diseases / physiopathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Imaging* / methods
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Multimodal Imaging
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors