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Society for Women's Health Research and MITA Promote Greater Awareness of Medical Imaging to Diagnose Women's Coronary Artery Disease
Date:2/18/2009

Groups Provide Information on Cardiac Medical Imaging Technology for Patients and Families

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- February is American Heart Month and 44 million American women are living with or are at risk for heart disease.

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With coronary heart disease the leading cause of death in women over the age of 50, the Society for Women's Health Research and the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) today reminded women of the diagnostic technology available that can detect heart disease while it is treatable, and released a fact sheet to help patients and their families better understand the noninvasive diagnostic technologies that can be used to help detect coronary disease.

Advances in noninvasive cardiac imaging have enhanced almost every aspect of cardiac care. New imaging technology enables doctors to see the heart in incredible detail that was not possible even a decade ago. The use of the right cardiac scan at the right time has saved lives, reduced hospital stays, returned people to work more quickly, kept families together and significantly lowered health care costs.

While angiograms -- an invasive procedure that involves inserting a guide wire and catheter into the groin -- is the most common means of diagnosing heart disease, non-invasive medical imaging's role in cardiology, such as echocardiography, that takes "moving pictures" of the heart with sound waves, continues to dramatically change the way patients are diagnosed and treated.

The fact sheet released today provides information on echocardiography, coronary computed tomographic angiography (CCTA) and electrocardiogram (EKG) and other technologies and innovations that physicians may utilize and recommend to their patients.

A recent study by Harvard University found that noninvasive CCTA is more cost-effective than current tests for diagnosing women with low risk of a heart attack who come to the emergency room with acute chest pain. The researchers found that CCTA was $410 less in emergency department and hospital costs than the standard-of-care to triage a 55-year-old woman.

Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, lead author of the Harvard study stated, "I think the day may come when this technology is regularly used to triage patients that would otherwise end up waiting for hours in the emergency department."

"Access to modern cardiac diagnostic and imaging tools is an issue of critical importance to women's health care that goes beyond general prevention efforts," Phyllis E. Greenberger, M.S.W., president and CEO of the Society for Women's Health Research, said. "Women have been waiting a long time to receive the right information and the right care in both hospitals and physicians' offices. Now is not the time to make it more difficult for women to get the care they deserve."

"Support for high-value preventative care, like medical imaging, means looking towards a health care system oriented towards prevention," Ilyse Schuman, managing director of MITA, stated. "This is sound medicine and sound fiscal policy. Timely access to imaging results in fewer surgeries and shorter recovery times and hospital stays, saving patients and the health care system money."

Trust for America's Health recently published the Prevention for a Healthier America study which found that that for every $1 spent on proven community-based disease prevention programs, the country could net a return of $5.60 in health care costs -- a savings of more than $16 billion annually within five years. Similarly, researchers at Harvard Medical School have demonstrated that every $1 spent on inpatient imaging translates into approximately $3 in total savings.

As the debate on health care reform continues, MITA and the Society for Women's Health Research also called on Congress to support the Right Scan at the Right Time legislative principles to guarantee patients, especially seniors, access to imaging services:

  • Enhance Medicare beneficiaries' access to medical imaging for recommended disease screenings to encourage prevention and wellness;
  • Preserve the doctor-patient relationship in making health care decisions;
  • Apply accreditation and appropriateness criteria to ensure that facilities and physicians meet acceptable quality standards;
  • Harness health information technology to improve quality and reduce cost;
  • Urge continued development of new innovative medical imaging technologies to further enhance patient outcomes and reduce costs; and
  • Utilize diagnostically appropriate comparative effectiveness research to improve the quality of health care.

To access the fact sheet, please visit www.womenshealthresearch.org or www.medicalimaging.org.

For more information on appropriateness guidelines suggested by the American College of Cardiology, please visit: http://www.acc.org/qualityandscience/clinical/statements.htm.

ABOUT MEDICAL IMAGING

Medical imaging, which plays a critical role in disease prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and many other illnesses, has changed the face of health care delivery. When patients receive the right scan at the right time, patient outcomes are improved. Data demonstrates that timely access to imaging allows physicians to more accurately identify diseases and treat patients.

SOCIETY FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH RESEARCH

The Society for Women's Health Research is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the health of all women through advocacy, education and research. Founded in 1990, the Society brought to national attention the need for the appropriate inclusion of women in major medical research studies and the need for more information about conditions affecting women exclusively, predominately, or differently than men. The Society advocates increased funding for research on women's health; encourages the study of sex differences that may affect the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease; promotes the inclusion of women in medical research studies; and informs women, providers, policy makers and media about contemporary women's health issues. Visit the Society's Web site at www.womenshealthresearch.org for more information.


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