Proactively catching disease early in outpatient setting
While an outpatient cardiac MR center may be seen as an anomaly, Dr. Muthupillai and Dr. Cheong think it is a natural fit, because an outpatient center is more likely to encounter patients earlier in the disease process. In 2017, 5.7 million people in the US had heart failure, and it is estimated that by 2030, more than 8 million people will have this condition – a 46% increase in prevalence in just over a decade , and will impose a staggering economic cost to the US health system and the team envisions that not only will cardiac MR increasingly become a primary tool for cardiac diagnosis, but that its use will expand from diagnosis to prevention and treatment assessment.
Dr. Cheong notes that in a hospital setting, echocardiography is likely to always be the first modality used to image heart patients. It is portable, patient-friendly and very familiar to cardiologists. "However, in a nonemergent setting, MR can be the primary modality," he says. "If a patient has heart failure, I'd want to know the cause, so rather than doing an echocardiogram, I would use MR to assess heart function. I can also look at morphology to assess proximal coronary arteries, and look at viability to see if there is prior damage. MR also can help us determine if the patient has non-ischemic cardiomyopathy versus ischemic cardiomyopathy."