Is it possible for a magnetic resonance angiogram (MRA) to miss detecting chronic heart failure?

The MR angiogram is typically used to measure the function of one’s heart.

An MR angiogram is a type of MRI: magnetic resonance imaging. An MRA of the heart doesn’t just show what things look like; it shows how things function.

“An MRA can detect congestive [or chronic] heart failure by showing that the heart is either not relaxing properly and is stiff, which is diastolic CHF, or may show decreased pump function, which is systolic CHF,” explains Dr. Sameer Sayeed, a cardiologist at ColumbiaDoctors of Somers, NY.

The MRA procedure will not miss these issues. It takes about an hour and requires that the patient be injected with a dye so that the physician can visually read contrast in the image.

“The MRA may also show fluid in the lungs and pleural spaces which indicate acute heart failure,” says Dr. Sayeed.

The patient’s head is entirely inside the MRI “tube,” and some patients will have an anxiety attack while others might doze off between instructions from the MRI tech to periodically hold their breath.

Some Symptoms of Congestive or Chronic Heart Failure

– Chest pain

-Shortness of breath

-Swollen feet and/or legs

-General undue fatigue

-Rapid pulse

-Persistent cough with pink-tinged or white phlegm

-Swollen abdomen

-Appetite suppression


-Reduced alertness

-Sudden weight gain (fluid retention)

Stress MRA

Dr. Sayeed says that a stress MRA can show normal or abnormal cardiac function while the patient is at rest as well as with cardiac stress.

This highly sensitive test will not miss problems.

If the results of this test are normal, “then the warranty period is about 3-5 years depending on the number of risk factors and lifestyle,” says Dr. Sayeed.

Risk factors for congestive heart failure include high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, heart attack, diabetes, irregular heartbeats, untreated sleep apnea, drinking, viruses and congenital defects.

Dr. Sayeed performs echocardiograms and stress tests at the Midtown Manhattan and Westchester offices at Columbia Doctors. He is also trained in cardiac CT imaging.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


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