A cardiac (heart) MRI scan takes pictures of the heart and surrounding organs to check for heart disease and defects.
What is a cardiac MRI scan?
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner uses radio waves and magnetic fields to look inside the body without the need for surgery. It does not use radiation, which makes it a safer alternative to a CT scan. A heart MRI scan lets doctors see if there are any signs of heart disease or other defects or issues. It can also detect future risk of heart disease earlier than other tests, such as an exercise stress test.
What does a cardiac MRI scan treat?
A heart MRI scan may be recommended if a doctor believes a patient to be at risk of heart failure or other heart issues. Males over 40 and females over 50 can also benefit from a heart MRI scan to detect their potential risk of heart disease, which increases with age.
A heart MRI scan may also be beneficial if any of following risk factors apply:
- History of smoking
- Family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Obesity or lack of exercise
A heart MRI scan can detect calcified build-up in the arteries of the heart earlier than an exercise stress test (a test that does not use imaging). Calcium build-up helps assess the risk of heart disease in future because it typically appears before any symptoms, such as chest pains.
It can be used to diagnose a number of heart conditions, including:
- Coronary heart disease
- Congenital heart disease
- Cardiac tumour
- Inherited heart conditions
Cardiac MRI scan results
Our radiologists will carefully analyze your MRI scan images and provide a report to your physician.
Preparing for a cardiac MRI scan
Typically a heart MRI scan requires no preparation. Some patients, such as breastfeeding or pregnant women or someone with a pacemaker or metal implants, should talk to their doctor or technician in advance. A heart MRI scan takes place in an enclosed area, so patients who do not like being in small spaces should raise their concerns with the technician. Sedatives may be available to help with anxiety.
A special dye may be administered through an IV to highlight the heart and arteries. Patients should talk to their doctor or technician if they have ever had an allergic reaction to this dye. Before the scan patients must remove all metal objects, such as keys, jewellery, and watches, and put on a hospital gown.
What to expect with a cardiac MRI scan
The heart MRI scan takes place in a large tube that is open at both ends. The patient lies on a scan table and is moved into the tube. Patients must stay completely still to capture accurate images, and may be asked to hold their breath for short periods to stop the chest moving. The scanning process is quite noisy, involving a hammering sound. Patients can wear special earplugs or headphones and can hear and talk to the technician at all times. The scan can take from 30 minutes to over an hour.
Recovery after a cardiac MRI scan
After the scan, the patient can go home immediately. Our radiologists will carefully analyze the ultrasound images and provide a report for the patient’s doctor, so they can discuss the results. Patients also receive a CD DVD or USB containing the ultrasound images to take home. Patients who received sedatives for anxiety will need to wait for the effects to subside and should avoid driving home after the scan.
Get a cardiac MRI scan with Centric Health
Many men and women from across Canada and all over the world choose Centric Health Surgical Centres for heart MRI scans. We use the latest MRI scanning equipment and employ highly trained technicians who are sensitive to your needs and concerns. Combined with our patient-centred philosophy, we aim to provide all our patients with a compassionate, caring, and rewarding experience.
Next steps: Book your Cardiac MRI Scan
If you are ready to discuss your heart MRI scan needs, contact us to learn more and request a scan today.