Fatty deposits in the hearts of pre-diabetic people can be detected long before symptoms appear using a simple imaging technique developed by US researchers.
The technique captures the signal from a beating heart as a patient resides in an ordinary magnet used for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning.
Previous studies had shown that fat builds up in the hearts of people with heart failure or type 2 diabetes but it was unknown whether this happened before or after symptoms appear.
Senior author Dr Lidia Szczepaniak said: "There is currently no way to clinically evaluate the fatty heart. Using this technique, which analyzes magnetic signals, we might be able to determine if people are prone to heart disease very early before the disease progresses.
"This method might also allow us to measure the effectiveness of medical treatments targeted toward lowering fat in the heart."
The study appears in the September 4th issue of Circulation.