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D-SPECT Could Offer Faster Stress Test For Hearts

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Posted at 4:15 PM, Jun 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 02:18:53-04

PITTSBURGH. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If someone has been suffering from sudden, unexplained chest pain, doctors have been known to order a stress test to try to find the cause. As part of that test, doctors have used either a treadmill or a chemical to “rev” up the heart. Now, a new cardiac imaging system has been making the test faster and easier on patients.

Richard Bruce, a retired Pittsburgh building inspector, has been the founder of the “Paint Your Heart Out” program, rehabbing homes for senior citizens.

“I started getting these symptoms that I couldn‘t go up the steps,” Bruce told Ivanhoe.

Richard had heart failure and had a transplant in 2002. Doctors have now been checking his heart function regularly with a nuclear stress test.

“You had to lie down, and then they pump the fluid into you and they pump your heart up like you were doing a four-minute mile,” Bruce explained.

With traditional imaging machines, the nuclear stress test required a patient to lie still on his back for about 10 minutes.

“During the test they also have to hold their arms above their head, and this is often difficult for elderly patients and patients with orthopedic problems,” said Dr. Prem Soman, Cardiologist and Director of Nuclear Cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

For those patients, this system may be the solution. The D-SPECT has been used to take images of a patient sitting up with arms down. Nine detectors inside took 120 images, instead of 64.

“In most patients we can finish imaging in three to five minutes,” Dr. Soman said.

“Being more comfortable and relaxed than the other test,” Bruce explained.

For Richard, who also struggled with his back, it meant a cardiac check-up was no longer something to dread. Dr. Soman said because the new cameras have been very efficient, patients needed a smaller dose of the radioactive dye to take images.

BACKGROUND: Heart failure is a serious condition where the heart can no longer supply the body’s cells with enough blood. Heart failure doesn’t necessarily mean that the heart is no longer working; it means that the heart is no longer pumping as well as it should. You depend on your heart to pump oxygen and nutrient rich blood to the body’s cells. If the cells are not nourished properly then your body will no longer be able to function properly. If you have heart failure, you may suffer from fatigue, shortness of breath and coughing. Some everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs can become difficult to perform. (Source)

TREATMENT: (Source) Heart failure develops over time and is caused by damage to the heart that cannot be cured but can be treated. Heart failure treatments can include:

  • Lifestyle changes- maintaining weight, diet changes, avoiding alcohol and smoking, managing stress
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Ongoing care

NEW TECHNOLOGY: In order for doctors to check a patient’s heart, they often use a nuclear stress test. With traditional machines, patients have to lie flat, often for up to 15 minutes, with their arms above their head. Prem Soman, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine at UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute in Pittsburgh, PA says that this can often be difficult for elderly patients and patients with orthopedic problems. With the new solid-state detector technology, patients are able to be imaged while sitting up. They also do not have to hold their hands over their heads, making the process a lot more comfortable. In addition, patients can finish imaging in three to five minutes, and Dr. Soman says, “Because the cameras on the new machine are very efficient, we can also use smaller amounts of radioactive dye, therefore it’s associated with a smaller radiation dose to patients.” (Source: Prem Soman, MD, PhD) MORE.