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MRI Detects Early Heart Damages In Patients

According to a study conducted by cardiologists of Duke University Medical Center, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can be used as a conventional method for detecting heart// damages early in patients with the immune system disorder sarcoidosis, who are at higher risk of dieing from heart problems.

By using MRI to discover minute areas of heart damage before they grow larger, physicians may be able to take action to prevent sudden cardiac death, which is a leading cause of death in patients with sarcoidosis, the researchers said.

Sarcoidosis is characterized by the formation of tiny inflammatory growths called granulomas. Although granulomas tend to cluster in the lungs, in lymph nodes and under the skin, they also can form in the heart. When they do, it currently is difficult to determine which patients will develop heart damage, the researchers said.

"We found that MRI was sensitive in detecting small areas of damage in the hearts of patients with sarcoidosis, and we were further able to correlate these areas of damage with future adverse outcomes," said Duke cardiologist Manesh Patel, M.D., who presented the results of the study on Sunday, Nov. 12, at the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association, in Chicago. "The MRI technology is very good at obtaining high-resolution images of heart muscle and distinguishing normally functioning heart cells from those that are damaged or destroyed."

The Duke Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Center supported the study.

According to Patel, conventional methods identify cardiac damage in only 5 percent to 7 percent of sarcoidosis patients. The standard evaluation includes an electrocardiogram, which is an electrical test of the heart, coupled with one of a number of different cardiac imaging techniques.

But previous studies in which autopsies were performed on sarcoidosis patients indicate that up to 30 percent of such patients exhibit evidence of hea
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