PROMISE study to identify best diagnostic heart test

Nothing can be more important in detecting heart disease than the technology that is used to pinpoint the problem. But with so many options of diagnostic tests, which one is the best?  A worldwide study has been launched to find that out - and its lead investigator is with Cardiovascular Specialists of Southwest Louisiana.

If you see him today, it is hard to believe that it has only been two months since Farrel Duhon of Lake Charles had a heart bypass surgery.  It is something that came as a shock to him after a seemingly clean bill of health.  "I'd take an annual physical at work for my job and from my primary physician and nothing ever indicated any problems with my health at all," he said.

But when Duhon starting having shortness of breath, he decided to talk to his primary care doctor about it - who sent him to Dr. Michael Turner. "He had shortness of breath in exercise and plenty of reasons to have that symptom other than heart trouble," said Dr. Turner.

Dr. Turner is the lead investigator in the worldwide PROMISE study (PROspective Multicenter Imaging Study for Evaluation of Chest Pain) that monitors four types of imaging for heart disease: cardiac CT scans, stress tests, nuclear tests or echos.  "It is trying to answer the question as to which really is the best test to start out with in diagnosing heart disease," he said.

Dr. Turner thought Duhon would be a great candidate to enroll.  Duhon agreed and was randomly chosen for the cardiac CT scan. The images give doctors a detailed picture of the heart and in Duhon's case showed a 100 percent blockage in the left coronary artery!  "It floored me," said Duhon, "basically, they said I had lived through the 'widow-maker,' which my wife didn't take too well and neither did I."

A bypass in January fixed Duhon's blockage. As part of the PROMISE study that he is now a part of, his medical story will be used in the research following 10,000 other heart patients.  "What we will gain from this is the medical knowledge of how best to treat people with heart disease and participating in this study, I think, you're advancing the science to a very good cause," said Dr. Turner.

Duhon says the study has already saved his life by providing the technology that found his blockage before it killed him.  His hope is that patients now and for years to come - are also saved.  "To help myself and possibly to help others," said Duhon, "you get more information and in the long run, people learn more about how to help you."

So far, 11 local patients are enrolled in the PROMISE study. There will be no change in care for these patients.  They will just get phone calls from Duke researchers every six months to follow up on their progress. @

To learn more about the PROMISE study, click here.  If you would like to see if you qualify to enroll, call Cardiovascular Specialists of Southwest Louisiana at 337-493-4341.  They are looking for more people to enroll!

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