Predicting Heart Attacks in 10 Seconds

8/6/2008 LOS ANGELES, Calif. Shopping is not exactly a tough workout, but not long ago, one hour in a mall felt like a marathon to 56-year-old Darlene Nadian.

"Very weak, very tired all the time," Nadian says.

Nausea, dizziness and arm pain convinced Darlene and sister Dawn that it was her heart. Doctors didn't agree.

"They said I was perfectly fine," Nadian says. "They ran EKG's on me. They told me it was indigestion."

After growing weaker and weaker, Nadian ended up in the emergency room -- and finally in the machine that saved her life.

The CT coronary angiogram takes thousands of X-ray pictures of cross-sections of the heart in five to ten seconds. A computer turns them into a detailed 4-D image -- capturing the heart from every angle.

"[It] images the area of the heart fast enough that we can get stop-action images of the coronary arteries," says Daniel Berman, M.D., Director of Cardiac Imaging at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Dr. Berman immediately spotted a 90 percent blockage. Nadian was rushed to surgery and two stents were placed in her right artery.

"It's the obstructed arteries that are the most dangerous ones," Dr. Berman says. "They're the ones that cause symptoms."

Finding them has never been easier with this machine. Patients no longer need a catheter threaded through the groin and up into the coronary arteries. And now, doctors here have cut radiation exposure 75 percent.

No more fatty foods or cigarettes for Nadian. With a family history of heart disease, she's no longer taking chances.

The CT coronary angiogram is available nationwide. The cost of the test is about $1,500, but it is now covered by Medicare and many insurance companies.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Patient Information Line
(800) 233-2771


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