It’s a new way of imaging and diagnosing heart disease that could make a difference for cardiac patients.

MRI machines aren’t new, but how they are being used in a current study to diagnose cardiac patients could be life changing for some.

Dr. Frank Prato, a scientist at the Lawson Health Research Institute, says, “We will be able replace all the tests and have a new method of examining healthy hearts and hearts with disease."

Prato says the current standard method is to inject patients with radioactive chemicals so that the MRI machine can detect the presence of f the disease, along with a stress test that usually requires physical activity.

“It’s limiting because you can’t always give the drug to the individual because they may not be able to do so and it’s limiting in the sense that people have to come back and they can’t or won’t exercise."

In collaboration with researchers across the globe, Prato and the team have discovered a new method, by using the MRI machine and oxygen to study heart muscle activity.

“If you increase the carbon dioxide in blood then that is a stimulus to increase blood flow in the heart in normal tissue, and in tissue that’s not normal in the study we showed that blood flow did not increase and we can see it just by using carbon dioxide.”

That would make this test available and safe for all patients.

The next phase in this study is to do a human clinical trial in London with about 20 patients. It is expected to take about a year to complete.