Using B-type natriuretic peptide and whole body contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging to detect asymptomatic cardiovascular disease and improve prediction of risk of cardiovascular disease
: the TASCFORCE Study

  • Matthew Alexander Lambert

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Medicine


Cardiovascular disease remains a leading a cause of mortality and morbidity. Primary prevention is known to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease. The use of medication is currently targeted at those at increased predicted risk of cardiovascular disease using risk prediction tools developed from large epidemiological studies. However these have poor external validity particularly for those at low or intermediate risk: a significant number of cardiovascular events still occurs in these groups. We hypothesised that screening for asymptomatic pre-clinical cardiovascular disease using B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and whole body contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could identify those at low/intermediate risk or disease who will develop clinical disease and thus facilitate improved targeting of primary prevention at those most likely to benefit.

The Tayside Screening for Cardiac Events (TASCFORCE) study is a prospective normal volunteer cohort study. Men and women aged 40 years or older free from cardiovascular disease and with a predicted 10-year coronary heart disease risk less than 20% were recruited. All had comprehensive baseline cardiovascular risk information and a BNP level measured. If the BNP level was greater than the median for their gender participants were invited to attend for a whole body contrast enhanced MRI scan comprising cardiac imaging and whole body angiography. The images were analysed to measure left ventricular mass (LVM), left ventricular volumes and left ventricular function. These were indexed for body size using height, height1.7, height2.7 and body surface area. Angiogram images were analysed for the presence and degree of intraluminal stenosis. All participants are being followed up using anonymised electronic data linkage for incident cardiovascular disease and death.

4423 participants (39.3% male) were recruited between November 2007 and February 2013. Median age was 51.2 years. The median 10-year coronary heart disease (CHD) 23 risk was 2% and 13.6% had a CHD risk of 10 19.9% (intermediate risk). The median BNP results for men and women were 7.5 and 15.3 pg/ml respectively. Age, female sex and high density lipoprotein were independently associated with BNP level. Heart rate, total cholesterol and ex-smoking status were independently inversely associated with BNP level. 1528 (74.8% of those invited) underwent an MRI scan. Mean left ventricular mass was 129.2g and 87.0g for men and women respectively. LVM and left ventricular mass index (LVMI) were significantly higher in men than women. The vast majority (94.6%) of arterial segments analysed were normal and 50.6% of individuals had no evidence of luminal stenosis. From follow up data obtained 2 years after the end of recruitment 18,364 person years at risk were analysed. 17 cardiovascular events and no deaths occurred in those not invited for an MRI scan based on their BNP result and 16 events and 1 death occurred in those invited for an MRI scan. There was no significant difference in event rates between those with above and below median BNP levels, between those with higher or lower LVM or LVMI or between those with and without the presence of stenosis on angiography.

As expected we have not demonstrated the ability of LVM, LVMI or stenosis burden determined using magnetic resonance imaging to predict cardiovascular disease in a population at low or intermediate risk of CHD. We have also not demonstrated the ability of BNP to identify those at low or intermediate risk of CHD who will develop clinical CV disease. However it is the pre-planned longer-term follow up where difference might be expected. The low number of events at this early stage in follow up mean that it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. As follow up continues and further events accumulate we hope to determine if these measures will be shown to predict cardiovascular events in future analyses. We have characterised the normal values and distribution of a range of left ventricular structural and functional parameters derived using a steady state free precision sequence MRI in a population at low or intermediate risk of CHD which will provide a useful reference for normal values that are different to other imaging modalities including chocardiography and other protocols of MRI scanning.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsSouter Charitable Foundation & Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland
SupervisorJill Belch (Supervisor) & Graeme Houston (Supervisor)


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging
  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • B-type natriuretic peptide

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