Exposing “silent” heart attacks through novel imaging techniques



Each year, about 1.2 million people in the U.S. have heart attacks What Is a Heart Attack?, but not all heart attacks are visible with electrocardiography (EKG). Rapid and accurate methods to detect and manage “silent” heart attacks are needed to speed diagnosis and ensure timely treatment.


IRP scientists led by Andrew E. Arai, M.D., pioneered the use of non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to accurately detect and respond to unrecognized myocardial infarctions. 


For the first time, physicians are able to detect, monitor, and treat heart attacks that patients may not even know had occurred. Early intervention in this type of cardiac damage can reduce the likelihood of subsequent cardiac events, including heart failure.


Schelbert EB, Cao JJ, Sigurdsson S, Aspelund T, Kellman P, Aletras AH, Dyke CK, Thorgeirsson G, Eiriksdottir G, Launer LJ, Gudnason V, Harris TB, Arai AE. (2012). Prevalence and Prognosis of Unrecognized Myocardial Infarction Determined by Cardiac Magnetic Resonance in Older Adults. JAMA. 308(9), 890-896.