Blessing Health System goes with the “flow” in diagnosing chest pain

A person feeling chest pain may have coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. That person needs answers to two questions from their provider:

  1. Is there a blockage in any of my arteries?
  2. If yes, is blood flow from the heart being restricted?

Answers to those questions determine the treatment needed: medication, stents or by-pass surgery.

For years – to get answers to one or both of those questions – many patients had to undergo a heart catheterization, during which a cardiologist inserts a thin tube called a catheter into the heart.

Today, outpatients and their providers at Blessing Health System’s Heart & Vascular Center in Quincy, IL, have another option to diagnose chest pain with no catheter needed in certain situations. It is called HeartFlow Analysis.

“It’s a very innovative technique,” said Irving Schwartz, MD, Blessing Health System board-certified invasive cardiologist.

Here is how it works: A patient experiencing chest pain undergoes a computed tomography angiogram (CTA), a 3D scan of the heart. If the CTA image shows a blockage, the image is sent to the HeartFlow company. Within hours, the HeartFlow team generates a computer model of the patient’s heart, and, using automated intelligence and applying the scientific principles of fluid flow, creates a color-coded map of the patient’s coronary arteries showing the extent to which narrowing is interrupting blood flow.

“The whole point of this technique is to be as non-invasive as possible and get the results needed for treatment planning without having to do a diagnostic heart catheterization,” said Farooq Junaid, DO, Blessing Health System board-certified non-invasive cardiologist.

“If the CTA shows a blockage, HeartFlow Analysis helps us determine the severity. While the patient may need a catheterization to treat the problem, they won’t need one to diagnose and one to treat. If HeartFlow Analysis shows no significant severity, the patient avoided an invasive procedure,” he added.

“Today we get more information from a CTA – a non-invasive test – than we do from a diagnostic catheterization – an invasive test,” Dr. Schwartz concluded. “When the CTA shows an abnormality, HeartFlow Analysis adds value to the CTA and the information we need to plan treatment.”

HeartFlow Analysis cannot be used on certain patients, including those who already have a heart stent or have had by-pass surgery.

For more information on HeartFlow Analysis, including a video, go to

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