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Study Finds MRI More Reliable Than ECG in Diagnosing Heart Attacks

Photo of Drew Britcher

A recent study reveals that electrocardiograms (ECG) are failing to diagnose heart attacks in many cases. Failure to diagnose a heart attack on time can lead to delayed or no treatment, which can result in a subsequent heart attack-and even death.

In the past, an ECG was used as a common tool to detect whether a patient experienced a myocardial infarction (MI), also known as a heart attack. However, a recent study from Reykjavik, Iceland, concluded that diagnosing an MI by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is more effective than by ECG.

The study surveyed 963 Icelandic patients, aged 67 to 93, with a variety of medical conditions and concluded that the chances of detecting an MI through MRI were much higher than ECG in elderly people. The mortality rate was also found to be higher in cases of patients who had an ECG.

The study's conclusions, although conducted abroad, are relevant to Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

Properly diagnosing patients who suffer from heart attacks is vital. In light of the study, if an MI is not detected in patients who undergo an ECG, they should speak with their doctor about the need for an MRI.

Source: EmaxHealth, ECG fails to diagnose many heart attacks reports new study, Robin Wulffson, Sept. 6, 2012

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