New non-invasive stress test finds earliest signs of heart disease, especially in women

Doctors say Met Test is saving lives

TAMPA - Faye Etta Davis is at her doctor's office looking for a diagnosis of current heart problems. "I have a stent in my heart.  I think I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  I worry a lot.  I just lost my brother. He had a major heart attack."

Her doctor says this Met test - a new non-invasive stress test - can pinpoint what issues Faye is having better than older tests.

Medical experts say the traditional treadmill stress test relies on EKGs and only partially assesses the heart and nothing else. This new test, they say, can determine heart failure, heart disease and pulmonary problems.

Here's how it works. The patient is on a bike, breathing into a mask. A computer monitors oxygen consumption, gas exchange and cardiac output.

Cardiologist Benedict S. Maniscalco says, "You get to combine cardiac function with pulmonary function, and they're inseparable, and detect whether or not there's an appropriate response to exercise by both the lungs and the heart."

Dr. Maniscalco says an abnormal test can signal the earliest stages of disease. "We've found a lot of patients that we treat can't figure out why they're having pain. Their tests are all normal.  We've treated their cholesterol and we've controlled their blood pressure.  And yet they continue to have symptoms and yet when they do the test we find that they have small vessel disease."

And that, Dr. Maniscalco says, can be treated with medication. Small vessels lead to those big vessels which clog and cause heart attacks and / or strokes, so, Dr. Maniscalco believes, this test can prevent those deadly events from ever happening.

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