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NIH study to evaluate role of MRI in emergency diagnosis of heart attack & stroke

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD today announced the start of a unique study to evaluate whether advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology will improve the emergency diagnosis of heart attack and stroke, ultimately saving patients' lives.

"This is the first time that an MRI scanner will be used to diagnose heart disease soon after patients are admitted to a hospital emergency room," said Dr. Claude Lenfant, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the lead NIH sponsor of the study.

"We hope to learn whether this technology can more quickly and accurately identify heart attacks and strokes so patients can benefit from earlier treatment--such as clot-busters," added Dr. Lenfant.

"The benefits to the health of our community will be extraordinary," said Dr. William Minogue, senior vice president for medical affairs at Suburban. "Suburban Hospital will be the only community hospital, and one of a small number of facilities in the world, with this level of imaging technology," he added.

MRI scanners are noninvasive yet they create clear, detailed images of internal organs and structures and can rapidly evaluate blood flow/supply.

Of all the patients coming into a hospital emergency room with chest pain, only about 40 percent can be immediately diagnosed with heart attack using standard testing. The majority of patients must undergo a number of tests or further hospitalization to reach a conclusive diagnosis. MRI may shorten the time needed to accurately evaluate cardiac patients.

The timing of stroke diagnosis is equally critical. "The new MRI technology will allow us to immediately see the stroke as it is occurring in the brain, while the damage is potentially reversible," said Dr. Gerald Fischbach, Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a co-sponsor of the study. "This offers us more hope of intervention and, with
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Contact: NHLBI Communications Office
301-496-4236
NIH/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
15-Jun-1999


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