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Heart Disease: How Can PET Make a Difference?

PET scans of the heart make possible the study and quantification of various aspects of heart tissue function. Clinical studies show an important role for PET in diagnosing patients, describing disease and developing treatment strategy. Two areas of clinical application have emerged:

PET is the most accurate test to reveal whether or not a patient has coronary artery disease and impaired blood flow.

PET is the gold standard in determining the viability of heart tissue for revascularization. PET can determine if bypass surgery or a transplant would be the appropriate treatment.

The American Heart Association says the body will likely send one or more of these warning signals of a heart attack: uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes; pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms; chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans today, and a heart attack is the most visible sign of heart disease. Looking at specific age groups, cardiovascular disease is No. 1 for age 65 and older; second for ages 25-64; third for ages 0-14; and fifth for ages 15-24. Heart disease is also the number one killer of American women.

The American Heart Association says the warning signs of stroke are: sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

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