Thursday, February 11, 2010
Better sign of blood vessel narrowing and early coronary artery disease
Cardiologists and heart imaging specialists at 15 medical centers in eight countries, and led by researchers at Johns Hopkins, have enrolled the first dozen patients in a year-long investigation to learn whether the subtle squeezing of blood flow through the inner layers of the heart is better than traditional SPECT nuclear imaging tests and other diagnostic radiology procedures for accurately tracking the earliest signs of coronary artery clogs. Each year, nearly 800,000 American men and women with coronary artery disease suffer a heart attack, resulting in more than 150,000 deaths. The latest international study of so-called CT perfusion imaging will involve the participation of some 400 men and women identified as being at higher risk of coronary artery disease because they have had symptoms of the illness, such as shortness of breath, chest pain or fatigue. All qualify for a more detailed inspection of their heart's blood vessels by cardiac catheterization, an invasive procedure in which a thin plastic tube is directly inserted into the heart's blood vessels to detect blockages and help widen each artery as needed.