Coronary artery disease (CAD) affects millions around the world and is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in many countries. It occurs when cholesterol deposits and inflammation restrict blood flow to the heart.
A German team has made a bounding leap in diagnosing serious heart conditions which may offer patients a second chance. The team is using a technique called late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) in patients with coronary artery disease to find myocardial infarctions (MI) that are hidden to traditional methods.
Although most infarctions (heart attacks) occur with classical symptoms like sharp pain in the heart region and/or arm, difficulty breathing and fear of dying, there are so-called silent heart attacks that can still influence prognosis.
"These patients represent almost half of the patients found to have MI. Thus, silent MI has to be regarded as a frequent finding in LGE cardiac **MRI**," noted Dr. Bernhard Klumpp and colleagues from the department of radiology at Eberhard Karls University Tübingen. "Although these MI are smaller than apparent MI, they are of clinical relevance as the presence of MI is linked to an unfavorable prognosis."
Its known from clinical data that many patients who suffer from coronary artery disease (CAD) have a silent progression of the disease. This means that they may have a heart attack and never know about it. This also has serious effects on the prognosis, which is why these patients must be strictly **monitored** and corresponding tactics should be employed.
In this study, however, Klumpp et al. decided to study silent heart attacks in patients showing symptoms of coronary disease. Two hundred and forty patients were studied, which included 182 men and 58 women. Of the 240, 181 had previous history of CAD while 76 experienced a heart attack in the past. All patients either had previous or new symptoms of CAD or known CAD with recurring or increasing symptoms.