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Nuclear stress test can detect more than blockages
Date:7/14/2008

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Dr. Patel collaborated with Dr. Vincent J.B. Robinson and looked at 52 consecutive patients who underwent cardiac catheterization within 15 days of a nuclear stress test to test the efficacy in diagnosing diastolic dysfunction.

During a nuclear stress test, radioactive thallium is injected into the bloodstream to show how well blood flows to the heart muscle. Scans are taken shortly after an exercise test to show blood flow when the heart is stressed and two or three hours later to show blood flow during rest.

"This test is usually used to identify blockages in the heart," Dr. Patel explains. "But in addition to the blockages, we have demonstrated that it also shows the left ventricle filling pressure, thus giving us an excellent prognostic value in predicting diastolic dysfunction because when the filling pressure is too high, the left ventricle has a hard time receiving blood."

Dr. Patel and the MCG nuclear cardiology research team compared the diastolic filling pressure from the catheterization and from the nuclear stress test and found that the latter had a 94 percent specificity in detecting diastolic dysfunction (i.e. high filling pressure at cardiac catheterization).

The nuclear stress test plots out a heartbeat in 16 frames, and that represents the diastolic filling curve at 16 points, like taking a melon and slicing it into 16 even pieces, says Dr. Robinson, nuclear cardiologist at MCG and the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Augusta and faculty adviser on the study. The slope of the filling portion of the curve is a representation of the left ventricle filling pressure used as a marker of diastolic dysfunction.

"We have discovered that just looking at these markers can tell us whether a patient has diastolic dysfunction or not," says Dr. Robinson. "Diastolic function is a major prognostic factor in these patients with coronary disease. Previously, the nuclear stress test was on
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Contact: Amy Connell
aconnell@mcg.edu
706-721-8605
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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