MRI scans to reduce unnecessary heart tests

30 August 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

MRI scanner

Using an MRI scan to diagnose coronary heart disease could reduce the need for people to have an invasive heart test, according to a new study we helped fund. 

Currently, patients with suspected  coronary heart disease may undergo an angiogram which allows doctors to look inside the coronary arteries. But rates of unnecessary angiography have long been considered too high.

However, research led by a team at the University of Leeds found that an MRI scan allowed doctors to make more accurate decisions about the need for an angiogram.

The CE-MARC 2 trial, led by Professor John Greenwood, found unnecessary angiograms were performed 28 per cent of the time when current guidelines for their use were followed. But when an MRI scan was used to determine the effectiveness of an angiogram, the number of unnecessary procedures fell to under 8 per cent.

Reducing the need for angiography

Our Medical Director, Professor Peter Weissberg, said: "From both a patient safety and cost perspective it is important that invasive coronary angiography, an x ray procedure that involves placing a small tube into a patient’s arteries, is undertaken only on those who are likely to benefit from the procedure. 

"This important study shows that for certain patients with chest pain non-invasive imaging, with MRI or myocardial perfusion scintigraphy (MPS) scans, can provide the diagnostic information needed without the need for invasive angiography.  

"This study should pave the way for a revision of current clinical guidelines and result in fewer patients needing to undergo invasive angiography in the future."

Donations with impact

This trial follows on from another study, called CE-MARC, which was also funded by your donations. Both studies could now lead to significant improvements in how heart disease is diagnosed. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our supporters.

Help us to fund more life-changing research like this by making a donation.