A New State-of-the-art Imaging Test at Monmouth Medical Center Is Helping Doctors Diagnose and Monitor Cardiac Problems.

Cardiac MRI

Upgraded MRI equipment allows cardiologist Ajay Shah, MD (shown seated with MRI supervisor Nicolas DeMonte, RT) to better assess the heart.

Long Branch, NJ, June 24, 2021 – By now, you’ve probably heard that COVID-19 can wreak havoc on the heart. In a recent study published in the European Heart Journal, researchers found that about half of patients who were hospitalized for COVID-19 developed cardiac problems, including inflammation and heart disease.

To get a full picture of the virus’s impact on a person’s heart, doctors perform a cardiac MRI. At Monmouth Medical Center (MMC), the MRI equipment was recently upgraded so these evaluations can be conducted.

“A cardiac MRI is the gold standard for assessing the structure and function of the heart,” says cardiologist Ajay Shah, MD, Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation at MMC and a member of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group.

A cardiac MRI enables doctors to assess blood flow, the heart’s valves and the presence of inflammation. Doctors can use the test to diagnose heart disease, aneurysm and cardiomyopathy, in which the heart has trouble pumping blood to the body. COVID-19 infection can lead to cardiomyopathy as well as myocarditis, or inflammation of the lining of the heart. The virus can also cause scarring, weakness and problems with the heart’s electrical system.

“An MRI helps us determine a patient’s prognosis and treatment,” says Dr. Shah. “In some cases, a person needs to be monitored. An MRI doesn’t expose a patient to radiation, so monitoring is safe.”

A cardiac MRI takes about 45 minutes to an hour, and the results are usually available the same day or within 24 hours. The test is most often covered by insurance.

“The technology has been around for a while, but it’s not available everywhere,” says Dr. Shah. “It’s a large investment.”

One measure of the test’s value: Members of the Rutgers football team who experienced COVID-19 will be evaluated with cardiac MRI. “They need the test to be cleared to play,” says Dr. Shah.

If you’ve had COVID-19 and continue to experience symptoms, such as chest pain, palpitations and difficulty breathing, ask your doctor whether you could benefit from a cardiac MRI. “It’s the best test we have for patients,” says Dr. Shah.

CONTACT: Kathy Horan
(732) 546-6317