There are several ways in which images can be made of one’s cardiological system. Producing cardiology images includes several methods to map heart health. Computed Tomography (CT) takes multiple X-ray measurements from different angles to produce cross-sectional 3-D images of the heart. Echocardiography uses echo images through 2-D and 3-D ultrasound. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnetic images to map anatomy and physiology pictures. Nuclear Imaging (PET and SPECT) uses radioactive isotopes to map the heart. Angiography uses x-ray images of the inside of arteries, veins and heart chambers after applying a radioactive plaque to create a clear picture.
Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) is a test using non-invasive imaging to show physicians how well blood flows through the heart. It can show any areas of the heart that may not be getting proper blood flow. Often called a nuclear stress test, the test images show how well the heart is pumping. The test is used for patients experiencing chest discomfort to try and determine and blockage. The imaging does not show the arteries directly but allow a doctor to predict with certainty if blockage exists and whether the patient has previously experienced a heart attack. All the above procedures are used by physicians and cardiologists to develop clear pictures of an individual’s heart and blood vessels to determine which methods might be used to treat a patient. Some, such as angiograms are more invasive procedures than conducting an MRI or performing a CT scan.
Researches and physicians at children’s and adult research and treatment centers are constantly working to improve non-invasive technologies to develop newer and safer methods for image scans. Digital echocardiography ultrasound of the heart was recently used to improve conditions for pediatric patients. This development allows people of all ages to benefit from new methods and procedures. Cardiology specialists now perform thousands of imaging scans every year. Labs are becoming sophisticated offering improved services to patients. The Children’s National Health System claims to have performed over 18,000 study scans each year in the development of technologies.
Studies show that cardiovascular disease places an increasing burden on health care services around the world. Advances in technology, new non-invasive treatments and advances in health care have improved patient recovery. Cardiac patients are living longer. The need for cardiologists is expected to increase as a large percent of developed nations populations are aging with 24% of populations expected to be older than 65 years by the end of the next decade. An increasing number of medical students are currently in training to help meet the needs of society. Increasing research and developments will be welcome tools for doctors to provide the highest level of treatment, increasing the patient’s quality of life.
The New England Journal of Medicine praises advancements in cardiac imaging developments for providing physicians with increasingly efficient tools to treat patients. All of the technologies and ongoing studies work in conjunction to increase the effectiveness of modern cardiological practices. Continued efforts will provide new and better techniques and early detection. More patients may expect to live longer, healthier, productive lives.