Study shows new imaging tracer clarifies cause of chest pain up to 30 hours after pain stops

A national team of researchers, led by a cardiovascular nuclear medicine specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, has demonstrated for the first time that an experimental radioactive compound can show images of heart damage up to 30 hours after a brief interruption of blood flow and oxygen. The discovery may help physicians in emergency rooms and in their offices determine whether a patient's chest pain, which may have subsided hours earlier, is related to heart disease or something else, such as indigestion. The results of the study appear today in Circulation Online and will appear in the print version of Circulation on October 4, 2005.

"We are excited about this agent because it extends the time window for identifying myocardial ischemia, a common cause of chest pain, long after the pain stops and blood flow to the heart returns to normal," says lead investigator Vasken Dilsizian, M.D., professor of medicine and diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of Cardiovascular Nuclear Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center. "This probe provides a direct connection to the cause of the chest pain without requiring a treadmill stress test or use of a drug that produces stress to assess heart function," says Dr. Dilsizian.

Nuclear medicine combines computers, detectors and radioactive substances called radioisotopes to produce images of blood flow and biochemical functions in the heart and other organs. The radioactive tracer evaluated for this study, known by the brand name Zemiva, links a fatty acid to a radioisotope which is injected in the patient. The researchers used a technique called SPECT (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography) to evaluate the tracer in this study.

The heart normally uses fatty acid as its primary fuel source for energy. Decreased blood flow to the heart, caused either by narrowed or clogged arteries or increased demand on

Contact: Bill Seiler
University of Maryland Medical Center

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