Northwest Health-Porter adopts new national imaging guidelines to enhance patient cardiac care

Northwest Health-Porter adopts new national imaging guidelines to enhance patient cardiac care

From left to right: Andrew Putnam, M.D., cardiologist, Northwest Medical Group; Jay Shah, M.D., cardiologist, Stella Kyung, cardiologist, Northwest Medical Group and Northwest Medical Group.

Northwest Health-Porter has adopted new, comprehensive guidelines for cardiac imaging that assists clinicians with assessing and diagnosing chest pain in adult patients.

The guidelines developed by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) are evidence-based recommendations that address both the diagnosis and evaluation of acute and stable chest pain in patients who come to the emergency room.

The detailed recommendations are the first set of guidelines from the ACC and AHA that address chest pain specifically. These guidelines offer a roadmap for physicians when evaluating patients with or without known coronary artery disease (CAD), as well as patients who have risk factors such as age or other health conditions.

“These long-awaited guidelines provide the most up-to-date recommendations for assessing and diagnosing chest pain in individuals who seek treatment at Northwest Health,” said Chris Atherton, regional director of cardiology services at Northwest Health-Porter.

One of the most significant updates from the guidelines published in 2021 is the elevated role of a Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA) to a Class 1 recommendation or the strongest recommendation for a medical test which indicates a strong need for a possible treatment or intervention. The CCTA is not the only non-invasive testing tool that has a Class 1 recommendation. Stress testing still has a Class 1 recommendation and is also readily available.

Northwest Medical Group cardiologists say this modification in guidance should have a greater impact on patients who come to the emergency department with chest pain or to a physician’s office with stable chest pain.

A coronary CTA is highly effective in diagnosing coronary heart disease and guiding any subsequent treatment decisions so appropriate medical and lifestyle therapies can be started much earlier in life. This non-invasive assessment tool also may be able to quickly rule out obstructive diseases, facilitate a quicker discharge from the hospital, and help patients avoid long waits in the emergency room or prolonged hospital stays.

Three Northwest Medical Group providers are certified to read and evaluate the CCTA: cardiologists Andrew Putnam, M.D., Jay Shah, M.D., and Stella Kyung, M.D., MBA.

For patients who are experiencing chest pain, and have a history of extensive coronary disease or are at the highest risk of CAD events, the ACC/AHA guidelines recommend an Invasive Coronary Angiography. In this case, a small incision is made in the wrist or groin, and a catheter is directed toward the heart. An injected dye through the catheter allows physicians to better see an individual’s blood vessels on x-ray images and whether there are any restrictions in blood flow to the heart.

To learn more about the cardiac care services at Northwest Health, visit