One test used for evaluation of heart disease is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). MRI uses large magnets and radio frequency waves to produce pictures of the body's internal structures; no X-ray exposure is involved. This technique obtains information about the heart as it is beating, creating images of the heart throughout its pumping cycle.
It’s dramatic when someone has a heart attack on television or in the movies. But in real life, symptoms can be more subtle and difficult to identify. And because heart attack and angina symptoms are so similar, it may be hard to tell what's going on.
But knowing the differences -- and the reasons behind them -- can result in seeking treatment sooner, and living longer.
If you are not claustrophobic (have a fear of closed spaces), you will not require any sedation to have an MRI test. Eat as usual and take your medications as usual.
If you are claustrophobic, you may ask your doctor to give you a sedative (a medication to help you relax) before your MRI. To avoid nausea, you should not eat any solid food for six hours prior to receiving your sedative. You may have clear liquids (apple juice, Jell-O, black coffee, tea, or water) up to two hours prior to taking the sedative. You may take your regular medications (with sips of water) unless your doctor advises against it. Make arrangements for transportation home since you will likely still be drowsy from the sedative.
The MRI uses powerful magnets to create its images. For your safety, anyone undergoing a scan should be free of any metallic or magnetic items. Inform the MRI staff if you have any metallic implants or any metal under the skin. Most metallic implants, such as sternal wires and clips used for heart surgery, pose no problem.
Some conditions may make an MRI inadvisable. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
Wear a shirt or blouse that can be easily removed. Women should wear a bra that can be easily removed prior to the exam. Wear metal-free pants, such as sweatpants with elastic bands, during the test. A gown will be provided. Please do not wear or carry any of the following: belt buckles, metal zippers, snaps, watches or wallets with bank or credit cards with magnetic strips.