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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 00:30 GMT 01:30 UK
Test 'detects heart disease early'
Heart attack
Heart disease is the second biggest killer in the UK
A test which has been used for 20 years to measure blood flow may also detect the early stages of heart disease, researchers have found.

Phase contrast magnetic resonance imaging (PCMRI) has been used to measure blood flow in vessels since the mid-1980s.

But researchers have found that by examining blood flow from the coronary arteries the technique can also assess how well the heart is working.

While the technique is similar to the conventional MRI scan, it offers a cheaper and improved way of identifying blood flow problems to the heart.

New approach

Dr Juerg Schwitter, assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Zurich and author of the study, said: "With this approach we are able to assess the blood supply to the heart muscle and assess how well the blood vessels of the heart function."

Researchers believe the technique can be used to develop new medication to fight heart disease.

They are examining whether specific medications can be used to boost bloodflow and halt the progression of the heart disease.


I think this technique will prove to be a valuable research tool in developing new medications

Dr Juerg Schwitter, University of Zurich

"I think this technique will prove to be a valuable research tool in developing new medications to prevent the development of coronary artery disease," said Dr Schwitter.

Researchers say the technique may be "ideal" for studying blood flow abnormalities in other forms of heart disease, including hypertension, valvular heart disease and cardiomypathies.

The study is published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

See also:

09 Jun 00 | Health
18 Oct 99 | Health
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