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Fast test for low blood flow in dogs detects early heart trouble

ize of blood vessels, many no bigger than 0.5 millimeters in diameter, often makes it difficult for physicians to pick up the subtle clues that signal the presence of arterial disease. He notes that blood vessels begin to narrow long before mild chest pain and other symptoms occur, leading to reduced blood flow that gradually starves the heart of needed oxygen and nutrients.

According to Lardo, blood flow in these tiny vessels can be readily detected by high-resolution equipment like 64-CT scanners.

The device produces precise, 3-D, diagnostic pictures within five to 10 seconds by quickly passing X-rays through the body. The resulting digitized signals, called "slices" - and there are 64 - are then reconstructed by a computer and used to build a three-dimensional image of the heart. The picture is so good, researchers say, it decreases the need for invasive, more risky procedures, such as angiograms or cardiac catheterization, to check for arterial blocks.

More than 1 million Americans undergo cardiac catheterization each year, and the procedures take much longer to perform, 30 minutes to 45 minutes, and require several hours for recovery. Roughly one-third will turn out to be unnecessary. Though rare, these tests also carry potential complications from infection, heart attack and stroke.

Lead study investigator Richard George, M.D., a Reynolds Foundation postdoctoral cardiology research fellow at Hopkins, says it takes on average between 45 minutes to one hour to perform another common diagnostic procedure, a cardiac stress test with exercise and ultrasound, to assess pumping function and blood flow.

"Even when patients have a normal exercise stress test, they may still be in the early stages of atherosclerosis, when vessels start to clog, narrow and harden, gradually straining circulation," he says. The main drawback to the Hopkins test, George says, is that CT imaging, like PET, also exposes patients to
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Source:Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


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