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MRI spots silent heart attacks

Test outperforms standard EKG in detecting unrecognized cardiac damage

Many people have had a heart attack and don’t know it. A study of older people in Iceland finds that nearly twice as many had experienced a silent heart attack as had suffered one with all the medical bells and whistles. MRI scans revealed the hidden heart attacks better than standard testing by electrocardiography, or EKG, scientists report in the Sept. 5 Journal of the American Medical Association.

It’s helpful to know who has had a heart attack because for the long term such people are treated more aggressively with medication, says study coauthor Andrew Arai, a cardiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md.

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