Cardiac MRI, or MRI of the heart, is a test that uses a large magnet, radio signals, and a computer to make images of the heart.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the U.S., 1 in every 4 deaths is the result of heart disease – that’s about 610,000 people who die from the condition each year. Heart disease does not discriminate and it’s the most fatal condition for several populations, including Caucasians, Hispanics, and African-Americans. Almost half of all Americans are at risk for heart disease and the numbers are rising, so having a good way to diagnose and direct treatments is a big deal.
As the only location in Colorado Springs and across southern Colorado that offers Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Penrose-St. Francis Health Services – Centura Health provides the most advanced and effective treatments for heart and vascular care. Through an enduring commitment to our mission, we have set the standard for health care in the Pikes Peak region for over 130 years. Motivated by our mission, we provide our community with whole-person care to help them get well and stay well, keeping care local today and into the future.
“There is increasingly strong evidence that Cardiac MRI is very good for complex cases and for diagnosing conditions where other tests have not been clear. It provides high-resolution images and can give very accurate measurements of the heart,” Dr. Patil said.
Cardiac MRI, or MRI of the heart, is a test that uses a large magnet, radio signals, and a computer to make images of the heart. The MRI machine creates strong magnetic fields around the body, which line up the hydrogen protons in the body. Radio waves knock the protons out of position and as these realign, they send out radio signals. A computer receives the signals and converts them into images of the body.
“Cardiac MRI can provide detailed information on the type and severity of heart disease to help decide the best way to treat heart problems, such as coronary heart disease, heart valve problems, pericarditis, cardiac tumors, or damage from a heart attack,” explained Dr. Harshal Patil, who specializes in Cardiovascular Disease and Cardiac MRI with Colorado Springs Cardiology, a Centura Health Clinic. Dr. Patil is the only cardiovascular physician offering Cardiac MRI in Colorado Springs and southern Colorado.
To prepare for a Cardiac MRI, patients must communicate if they have a pacemaker or other implanted devices in their bodies because the MRI machine can damage the devices. Any metal inside the body must also be specified and any metal on the body, such as jewelry, must be removed prior to the MRI.
“There are no risks for a Cardiac MRI and very few side effects if any. Cardiac MRI does not use ionizing radiation and there have been no documented ill effects from the radio and magnetic waves it uses,” said Dr. Patil. “The MRI machine looks a little intimidating, but as long as patients follow instructions to prepare appropriately, they will be completely safe.”
Dr. Patil is excited about the accuracy provided by the Cardiac MRI and its ability to diagnose coronary artery disease, as well as determining who should consider more invasive treatments to fix their condition. Cardiac MRI is also a great way to track the effectiveness of treatments, according to Dr. Patil, such as whether a stent or angioplasty restored enough blood flow to rescue the suffering cardiac tissue. This cutting-edge technology offered at Penrose-St. Francis can provide a critical 6-month or 12-month follow-up to assess a patient’s heart health after treatments.
“There is increasingly strong evidence that Cardiac MRI is very good for complex cases and for diagnosing conditions where other tests have not been clear. It provides high-resolution images and can give very accurate measurements of the heart,” Dr. Patil said. “It is very safe with little to no side effects, which is particularly important for patients with complex congenital heart disease, who need multiple scans over time.”
Providing the most advanced and effective treatments for heart and vascular care is top priority at Penrose-St. Francis – Centura Health. An expert team of doctors, nurses, technicians, and therapists, including Dr. Patil, tackle heart and vascular disease with the most advanced testing and imaging procedures. From early prevention to advanced care and rehabilitation, caregivers combine medical expertise with a compassionate touch to care for the mind, body, and spirit – all close to home.
To learn more, talk to your primary care physician or call Colorado Springs Cardiology at (719)776-8500.