Medical Minute: Quick Heart Scan

CT scanners have been around for years. They help doctors get a clear look at a patient's vital organs without operating, but the latest version of scanning technology makes the others seem almost old- fashioned.

When Marsha Van Nuys goes out to eat, she orders with great care. She's had high blood pressure for years, but her last visit to the doctor revealed something new.

"I went to my physician for my normal three-month blood work, and he discovered an irregular heartbeat. I went, 'Uh oh!' says Marsha.

When initial tests offered no explanation, Dr. Daniel Berman recommended a mouthful of technology, an angiogram, using electron beam tomography. It's similar to a standard CT scan, but with one crucial difference.

"With either of these techniques, it's possible to get images quite fast, but you can get them about 10 times faster with the electron beam approach than you can with the conventional approach," Dr. Berman says.

The electron beam is so fast, it can render images of a human heart, even as it beats.

In Marsha's case, the angiogram revealed a 50 percent blockage in two arteries. She was put on medication, kept a close watch on her diet, and started exercising. She says she's never felt better.

For more information, contact:

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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