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Why Perfectly Healthy People Get Heart Attacks
Noninvasive tests may help identify who's really at risk for a heart attack.
By Arthur Agatston, MD
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About 25 years ago, when I was co-director of the Noninvasive Cardiology Laboratory at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, performing heart ultrasounds and exercise stress tests, I got a call from an internist who told me that one of his patients had just suffered a heart attack. He was puzzled because this patient had recently passed an exercise stress test…administered by me! I was very upset by this news and rechecked the test results to see if I had made any mistakes.
After careful review, I couldn't find any errors in my analysis. The stress test was normal, and the patient had shown excellent exercise capacity. I remember feeling very frustrated. We were working with the best technology available, yet it wasn't good enough to detect a heart attack that was only weeks away.
Today, we do have other noninvasive tests that are much better at predicting the likelihood of a future heart attack.
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