Live Webcast Will Demonstrate New Heart Attack Predictor Using MRI

January 31, 2007

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A new procedure for predicting heart attack, developed by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center physicians, will be demonstrated in a live webcast Tuesday Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.

By speeding up the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner and creating new software, Medical Center researchers have made it possible for physicians to see heart movement within seconds after it happens — compared to an average of five minutes to see images previously. Wake Forest Baptist is one of two sites nationwide using the software, called CardioVue.

The software analysis system is particularly useful in emergencies due to its rapid real-time capabilities. This unique tool enables physicians to perform a real-time evaluation of a patient’s cardiac system by taking a large volume of raw cardiac magnetic resonance images and transforming them into superior images previously unavailable.

Cardiologist W. Gregory Hundley, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine, was the first in the world to report the successful use of MRI to diagnose significant blockages in coronary arteries. Through his research Hundley has found that MRI studies are highly predictive of future heart attacks. The discovery was an important step in making MRI a screening and diagnostic tool for heart disease. Researchers are evaluating MRI use with treadmill stress tests, learning more about the aging process of major blood vessels.

Currently, ultrasound is the most common non-invasive test for detecting heart disease. However, approximately 10 to 20 percent of people cannot have the ultrasound test because they are obese or have health conditions such as emphysema that interfere with getting a clear image of the heart.

MRI is also used to perform a stress test on patients not able to exert themselves at the rate necessary to perform a treadmill stress test. Because MRI can evaluate many parts of the body, the test could be useful for patients with multiple symptoms. For example, a patient could be tested for disease in the heart, coronary arteries and peripheral vascular system at one time.

Hundley and J. Jeffrey Carr, M.S., M.D., associate professor of radiology at Wake Forest Baptist, will answer e-mail questions from viewers during the live webcast from the Cardiovascular Imaging Center.

The center combines the expertise of Wake Forest Baptist cardiologists and radiologists to detect and diagnose heart disease more accurately with faster scans that provide clearer images of the heart. The center’s pediatric and adult imaging modalities include cardiac MRI, 64-slice cardiac CT angiography, 3-D echocardiography, contrast, transesophageal and stress echo, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, computed tomography (CT) imaging, and nuclear imaging.

To view the webcast visit The program will be archived for later viewing.

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Media Contacts: Jim Steele,, Karen Richardson,, or Shannon Koontz,, at (336) 716-4587.

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. The system comprises 1,238 acute care, psychiatric, rehabilitation and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report.

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