Cardiovascular disease affects more than 71 million Americans and will cost an estimated $403 billion in 2006. Each year about 700 000 Americans experience their first myocardial infarction (MI), 500 000 have recurrent MI, and 175 000 have a silent MI. With increasing life spans and a growing population, more than 1 million Americans with a congenital heart defect will require an increasing number of cardiac diagnostics. From 1979 to 2003, the number of inpatient cardiovascular operations and procedures increased 470% to an estimated 6.8 million in 2003. Accurate assessment of cardiovascular disease and risk is crucial to improving patient outcomes. Nurses caring for patients being tested for these disorders must be familiar with imaging techniques. This article reviews developments in cardiovascular diagnostic imaging, with an emphasis on cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and echocardiography.

Invasive coronary angiography has...

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