An international team led by scientists from Lawson Health Research Institute (Canada) and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (USA) is the first to show that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to measure how the heart uses oxygen for both healthy patients and those with heart disease. Reduced blood flow to the heart muscle is the leading cause of death in the Western world. Currently, the diagnostic tests available to measure blood flow to the heart require injection of radioactive chemicals or contrast agents that change the MRI signal and detect the presence of disease. There are small but finite associated risks and it is not recommended for a variety of patients including those with poor kidney function. More than 500,000 tests are performed each year in Canada. "This new method, cardiac functional MRI (cfMRI), does not require needles or chemicals being injected into the body," says Dr. Frank Prato, Lawson’s Assistant Director for Imaging. "It eliminates the existing risks and can be used on all patients." The results of the new study, titled "Accurate Needle-Free Assessment of Myocardial Oxygenation for Ischemic Heart Disease in Canines Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging" was published online on May 29, 2019 in Science Translational Medicine. The research team included researchers from Lawson; Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and University of California (USA); King's College (UK); University Health Network (Canada) and the University of Toronto (Canada); Siemens Healthineers (Germany); and the University of Edinburgh (UK). "Our discovery shows that we can use MRI to study heart muscle activity," explains Dr. Prato. "We've been successful in using a pre-clinical model and now we are preparing to show this can be used to accurately detect heart disease in patients."
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