Could your heart disease be detected earlier?
Most people think about seeing a doctor when they don’t feel well but delay making an appointment.
Some wait for an annual physical to ask their doctor questions about their symptoms. But how long should you or a loved one wait before you see a cardiologist?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 610,000 people die from the disease in the U.S. every year. This means that 1 in every 4 deaths is caused by heart disease.
The quicker the disease can be detected, the greater the chances of survival. One of the ways heart disease can be detected is through a cardiac MRI.
Dr. Shermeen Memon, a cardiologist with the Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., specializes in reading MRIs of the heart and says there are many reasons to have an one.
- To evaluate the extent of damage from a heart attack
- To analyze a patient’s heart, including structural details such as the valves, blood flow through major vessels and surrounding structures
- To gauge the enlargement of the heart due to thickening or weakening of the heart muscle
- To evaluate for congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart muscle has become weakened to an extent that blood cannot be pumped to the rest of the body efficiently
- To evaluate for inflammation of the heart
- To monitor a patient’s heart disease over time
- To diagnose or evaluate a tumor of the heart
These only represent only a few of the reasons why an MRI of the heart should be ordered.
“MRI images of the heart provide a significant amount of detail and can help diagnose a broad range of conditions that other imaging techniques just simply cannot do,” says Dr. Memon. “One significant advantage is that cardiac MRIs are a noninvasive way to obtain a vast amount of invaluable information about a patient’s heart condition. An added benefit is that the MRI spares patients from radiation exposure.”
MRIs of the heart can play a very important role in creating a treatment plan for a patient’s heart condition. While cardiac MRIs are important, not every cardiologist can perform and analyze the imaging studies. Dr. Memon spent an extra year of specialized training to learn the intricacies of performing and reading these studies.
Dr. Memon explains that every heart is unique. Cardiac MRIs play a crucial role in understanding the details of heart disease. Because Dr. Memon is also a cardiologist, she can not only read the MRI, but also immediately follow up with recommendations for treatment of your cardiology needs.
While not all hospitals have cardiologists who specialize in this skill, if you know you are at risk for heart disease and will be having a cardiac MRI, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there is a cardiologist available who specializes in reading them or ask to be referred to one.
Who knows, it could end up saving your life.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.