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Research & Training

Advances in Medical Imaging

Visualizing Heart Attacks

3 panel image showing different methods of viewing the heart.

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Credit: NHLBI

Researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) are developing and validating approaches for using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in cardiovascular applications and scientific investigations. Their laboratory runs a dedicated cardiovascular MRI scanner in Building 10 of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a second scanner situated near the emergency room of Suburban Hospital External Web Site Policy in Bethesda, Md.

About 6 million Americans visit the emergency room each year complaining of chest pain, which may or may not be a sign they are experiencing a heart attack. NHLBI-led studies have found that advanced MRI technology can detect heart attacks in people with chest pain more rapidly and accurately than traditional methods.

This work promises to lay the foundation for what may be a dramatic change in how heart attacks are diagnosed. Because patients will receive treatment more quickly, researchers say cardiac MRIs might save costs as well as lives.

Movies of Cardiac MRI

animated cardiovascular MRI showing a beating heartCardiovascular MRI: 4-chamber view of the left ventricle in a patient with aortic insufficiency and left ventricular hypertrophy. The images were obtained using fast gradient echo cine MRI in a short breathhold. (Seen here at left)

MRI flow tracking of blood traversing the heart chambers Tracking the displacement of water molecules in the ventricle throughout the cardiac cycle. (Image on the right):

This page last reviewed on February 25, 2011

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