Specialists at University Hospitals in Iowa City are among the first in the Midwest to use a highly-advanced technology to see real-time, highly detailed images of the heart. A device called the 64-Slice Coronary C-T scanner brings incomparable images, according to Doctor Edwin Van Beek, a U-of-I professor of radiological medicine.

Dr. Van Beek says "We are able to get 3-D information as well as 4-D information so we can actually see the heart moving, we can see the valves moving, as well as to visualize the vessels, the vessel walls and the extent of possible blockage or narrowing in those vessels." He says this advanced type of advanced X-ray will save people with potential heart problems from having to undergo much more invasive procedures.

Van Beek says "By integrating this within cardiology, we are able to take this technology into a setup where we can look at a lower end of the spectrum in terms of trying to prevent people having coronary catheter procedures done to them, so they can just have a scan and they’re out the door in 30 minutes." The new scanner facility at the U-of-I cost two-and-a-half million dollars and has only been in use a few months. Van Beek says it isn’t only being put to use for people who’ve had likely heart attacks.

Van Beek says "Finally we can start looking at screening people early. People can refer themselves for that actually. They can just have a look at their risk factors and built that into a screening project where people may be able to be treated earlier and therefore prevent damage to the heart muscle." Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and Iowa, accounting for more than 50-thousand Iowans’ deaths or about one-third of the state’s deaths in 2001.