Thanks to an exciting new imaging technique, the 64-slice computed tomography scanner, the heart can be seen in much greater detail without going into the body.
The 64-slice CT scanner uses x-ray technology to provide higher resolution images of the heart than previous imaging techniques. "Before the 64-slice CT scanner, it was difficult to get good images of the heart, because, unlike bones or other organs, the heart is constantly in motion," says James Calvin, MD, director of the Section of Cardiology at Rush University Medical Center.
Calvin is also someone who has benefited from the diagnostic capabilities of this new technology. He was diagnosed with 90 percent blockage of one of his coronary arteries when he and his colleagues were testing the new scanners. Had they not been running tests to ensure the scanners were ready for their patients, Calvin very likely would have found out about the blockage the way that so many others do, after the heart has been damaged.
Calvin has diabetes and thought that he had everything under control. "I was on good medication. I had good control of my blood sugar and my cholesterol, but I had a lot of stress, he says." The CT scan prompted Calvin to have angioplasty to clear the blockage. "I am doing well now, having just passed my stress test and all my lipid values are at goal," he says.
Calvin considers himself lucky to have been testing the new technology when he was. "The scary thing is that for a sizable proportion of people the first sign of a heart attack is when they collapse and are rushed to the hospital with a damaged heart or, tragically, when they don't survive long enough to make it to the hospital," says Calvin. "I was lucky enough to get an early warning."
The 64-slice CT scanner can be used for any part of the body, but it has really changed how heart problems are diagnosed.
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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
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