After analyzing data from more than 9,000 patients in the U.S., the researchers from Duke University concluded that cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) can non-invasively identify the severity of heart disease and also predict which cases are potentially fatal.
The method has potential as a non-invasive, non-toxic alternative to stress echocardiograms, catheterisations and stress nuclear exams in diagnosing disease. The technology does not require any radiation exposure. For the entire patient population, the researchers found a strong association between abnormal stress CMR and mortality, even after adjusting for patient age, sex, and cardiac risk factors.
Cardiac magnetic resonance
"Our study provides some clarity, although direct comparisons between CMR and other technologies would be definitive," said Robert Judd, from Duke University, co-director of the Duke Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Center in the US. CMR works as well or better than other exams at identifying heart wall motion, cell death and the presence of low blood flow, said the study. Cardiac MRI does not pose any specific risks compared to other indications for imaging and is considered a safe technique that avoids ionizing radiation. Certification of competency in CMR can be obtained at three levels, with different requirements for each.