Identification of significant coronary artery disease at rest with integrated backscatter imaging and myocardial strain

Ravi Rasalingan, M.D.

Project Overview:
Our proposal is designed to assess the ability of sound waves, interacting with the heart of a patient at rest, to detect blockages in blood vessels that can cause heart attacks. At present the main way of screening for these blockages is to perform a heart stress test where stress is induced by exercise or the use of a medication. This method is expensive, takes time and carries some risk. The current methods also rely heavily on the experience of the person interpreting the test as there are few definitive criteria to define whether the test is abnormal.

The techniques involved in our study involve using sound waves to detect the amount of blood in different regions of the heart corresponding to the course of the supplying blood vessels. We believe that our technique can detect if the amount of blood is reduced by a blockage. We are also measuring twisting and stretching of the heart muscle at different levels and believe that this motion will be reduced in regions of the heart supplied by a blocked blood vessel. The advantage of using these techniques are that they provide easily measurable numbers and can be performed in a regular sound wave test of the heart that is performed in many heart doctor’s offices with no risk to the patient. 

There is already information supporting the possibility of these techniques detecting changes in heart muscle and its blood supply. There have been no studies in humans performed to assess whether specific blood vessels supplying the heart and the amount of blockage present can be detected using these tests.

Many people are affected by blocked heart blood vessels which remain one of the most common reasons for poor quality of life and death. Early detection of people who have blocked blood vessels of the heart can allow the use of proven treatments designed to reduce the progression of this problem. It has been shown in a number of studies that the early treatment of the process that causes these blockages can save lives. This is especially important in people who are at high risk of developing this disease and where current methods of screening are especially inadequate. We believe that our proposal will make a significant advancement in developing a screening tool that can reduce the number of people suffering from the consequences of this disease.