Researchers Perfect the View of Heart Disease

FRIDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Radiologists have developed a way to gain better insight into signs of heart disease by using cardiac CT scans that detect narrowed arteries and low blood flow.

CT scans use X-rays to create cross-sectional images of the body's internal anatomy. The scans can detect blockages in coronary arteries, but it's hard to tell if they're actually preventing blood from flowing to the heart.

In a new study, published Sept. 15 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital explained how to gain more detailed pictures of what is going on inside the body, potentially giving doctors more information about the best treatment.

The research, based on tests in 34 cardiac patients, "is among the first demonstrations of the use of cardiac CT to detect both coronary artery stenosis and resulting myocardial ischemia simultaneously in a single examination," Dr. Ricardo C. Cury, a cardiac imaging specialist at the hospital's Heart Center and the study's principal investigator, explained in a hospital news release.

Though other scanning technologies, including nuclear perfusion imaging, provide information that can help guide patient treatment, such methods can lead to either false-negative or false-positive findings, Cury explained in the news release. The new technique "could improve diagnostic accuracy while potentially reducing costs and radiation exposure," he said.

"Since our study was relatively small, we need to test this approach in a larger multicenter trial," Cury added.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on heart disease.

SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, Sept. 15, 2009

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