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Integrated Medical Imaging Crucial in Diagnosis and Treatment of Heart Disease, IAEA Conference Concludes


Panelists from Plenary Session II: Ischemic Heart Disease at the International Conference on Integrated Medical Imaging in Cardiovascular Diseases. (Photo: O.Morozova/IAEA)

Close interdisciplinary cooperation between medical staff is key to improved patient outcomes, concluded participants of the International Conference on Integrated Medical Imaging in Cardiovascular Diseases (IMIC 2016), which ended at the IAEA on Friday.

“Good science is absolutely necessary but in isolation not sufficient for effective treatment,” said Diana Paez, Head of the Nuclear Medicine and Diagnostic Imaging Section at the IAEA and the scientific secretary of the conference. “Effective cooperation and soft skills make a difference.”

Through medical imaging, nuclear medicine physicians use nuclear techniques to collect patient data, such as the state or distribution of a disease. This information is critical for doctors. Having nuclear medicine physicians working alongside radiologists, cardiologists, medical physicists and radiopharmacists can therefore greatly improve the treatment and diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases, Paez said.

Incidence of cardiovascular diseases is on the rise around the world, killing at least 17 million people each year. But premature deaths can often be avoided through lifestyle changes, preventive measures and with the timely use of diagnostic imaging tools. The effective inclusion of these tools into overall efforts is crucial to the success of early diagnosis, prevention and eventually treatment, Paez said.


The conference provided clinicians, scientists and other professionals the opportunity to review and exchange insights on the latest developments in various aspects of integrated medical imaging as applied to cardiovascular diseases, including single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), echocardiography, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Presentations included the discussion of the ways in which diagnostic imaging can support physicians in enhancing patient management, specific pathology of cardiovascular diseases in women, an overview of pharmaceutical production in the United States and the role of international organizations in supporting developing countries in combatting cardiovascular diseases.

Oyere K. Onuma from the World Health Organization spoke about the importance of addressing cardiovascular diseases as part of efforts to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular one of the targets of SDG 3, Good Health and Well-being, which aims to reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030. She also called for bolder measures and a stronger focus from governments and international partners.

While developed countries have succeeded in suppressing incidence of cardiovascular diseases, this is not the case worldwide. “It is still a huge epidemic concentrated in low- and middle-income countries, because their lacks of adequate infrastructure have created gaps in patients’ access to basic care,” Onuma said.

The WHO’s goal, she said, was to reduce the number of premature deaths from cardiovascular diseases by a quarter over the next ten years. “We need to develop strong national plans, implement interventions to reduce risk factors, improve the health system and strengthen surveillance of cardiovascular diseases.”


Besides the presentations, participants also had the opportunity to actively interact with experts in six ‘Read with the expert’ sessions, in which real clinical cases were presented.

The conference attracted 350 participants from 94 countries. Attendees submitted 220 abstracts. 120 conference participants took part in the hashtag challenge, in which they had to post pictures of themselves using the #IMIC2016 tag. Authors of the 20 most popular posts won a free copy of a newly published IAEA publication, entitled Nuclear Cardiology: Guidance on the Implementation of SPECT Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (Rev. 1).

The recording of the sessions is available via this site.

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