Don't Feel President Clinton’s Pain

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Heart disease such as President Clinton's should now be diagnosed more accurately and safely with an ultra-high speed scanner.

Bill Clinton underwent numerous cardiac stress tests. After his latest one, he declared, “I aced it”. The next morning, we learned that his coronary arteries were 90% occluded. This scenario is not limited to the former President. In fact, it is quite common.

Even though President Clinton’s quadruple bypass surgery was successful and the prognosis for his recovery good, we should all be questioning the wisdom of cardiac stress tests as the first line of detection for coronary artery disease (“CAD”), a disorder that will affect 49% of American men, and 32% of American women at some point in their lifetimes, according to the American Heart Association.

Stress tests are favored as a non-invasive method of testing for CAD. However, according to research performed by Dr. Daniel Berman, Director of Cardiac Imaging at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, there is greater than 50% chance of missing coronary artery disease (CAD) in high-risk patients who have undergone “normal” stress tests. His studies show that even severe CAD, such as occurred with President Clinton, can be missed by the stress test.

With the advent of non-invasive, ultra-high speed scanners such as the Electron Beam Tomogram (EBT), anyone can now be screened for the presence of calcium within the walls of the coronary arteries. The results indicate the degree of risk of suffering from a heart attack if the patient goes untreated. “An EBT can scan the coronary arteries, and determine the presence of atherosclerosis far more accurately than the standard cardiac stress test,” said Douglas Boyd, PhD., the device’s inventor.

If calcium is detected in a non-invasive EBT scan or if the patient is suffering from cardiac symptoms, the patient may be advised to get an electron beam angiogram, which involves performing an EBT test with an injection of dye into a vein in the arm. According to Dr. Boyd “The EBT provides a clear roadmap of the interior of the coronary arteries, and can often find obstructive disease that is missed by stress testing”. Dr. Boyd also points out that EBTs use significantly less radiation than other forms of ultra-high speed scanning.

In President Clinton’s case, even though he can afford the best medical care, his doctors relied on the standard stress test. In my opinion, a non-invasive, ultra-high speed alternative would have placed him at less risk, and possibly resulted in earlier recognition of his need for surgical treatment. In an era in which technology enables doctors to see 3Dimensional images of the anatomy, doctors should change their mode of diagnosis to include more accurate tests that cost less than the cardiac stress test. The public should be encouraged to include preventative scanning to detect potential disorders that can be prevented, reversed or retarded before the onset of costly complications.

May you never feel President Clinton’s pain and please do what is best for yourself.

Myles L. Saunders, MD

Myles L. Saunders, MD is the Chairman & CEO of HealthAddress, Inc., a company involved in the interpretation of digital medical images including those taken by the EBT.

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Kelly Lefkowitz
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