Magnetic resonance imaging is becoming very important in the initial diagnosis and subsequent management of heart disease. MRI can help physicians to look closely at the structures and function of the heart and major vessels quickly and thoroughly, without the risks associated with traditional, more invasive procedures. Using MRI, physicians can examine the size and thickness of the chambers of the heart, and determine the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease.

After a heart attack, for example, an MRI examination can help the cardiologist understand how well the heart is pumping, whether the heart muscles are damaged or whether the lining of the heart is swelling. This is critical knowledge needed to administer prompt and effective treatment.

MRI has demonstrated potential for showing not only the structure, but also the function of the heart muscles, valves and vessels. Cardiac MRI creates movie-like images of the beating heart that doctors can use to diagnose a variety of cardiovascular problems. More and more, MRI is being used as part of the traditional cardiac stress test to help physicians with earlier diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and to assess the patient’s recovery after treatment.

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