By Lynda Witt, Certified Clinical Thermographer | Tucson, AZ
While most of my clients utilize DITI (Digital Infrared Thermal Imaging) for breast imaging, there are actually many uses of this technology.
I was asked recently to present to a group called Mended Hearts in Tucson. This organization is made up of people who have had cardiac events of some type. They meet to support those who may be facing heart surgery, a diagnosis of coronary artery disease or some other cardiac condition.
Prior to this presentation, one of the group members asked if DITI could monitor for heart disease or detect cardiac problems before someone suffered a heart attack or worse.
As it turns out, DITI is wonderful at monitoring full body health, including cardiac function.
In the American Journal of Cardiology, 1993, a study was done to determine if DITI could detect and help with management of coronary artery disease (CAD). Two questions were posed and tested to find the answers.
The first question was simply: Do people with coronary artery disease (CAD) have asymmetrical patterns across the chest region?
Remember, DITI is used to compare thermal patterns and temperatures on the body and where there are asymmetrical findings is where further investigation should take place.
This idea of asymmetry on the body when disease/dysfunction is present is actually based on something Hypocrites determined many, many years ago. He put wet mud on his patients and the areas that dried first or that dried faster than the contralateral region was where he found disease.
“In whatever part of the body excess of heat or cold is felt, the disease is there to be discovered.” ~ Hippocrates, 440 BC
So the question posed in the study, “Is there asymmetry in the precordial (chest) region in patients with CAD?” is deeply grounded in medical history. The first image to the left may answer the question even for the untrained eye.
As you can see, the left chest region on this male client is hypothermic (cool) in comparison to his right chest region. This type of thermal finding is consistent with cardiac dysfunction and further testing revealed this male client had CAD.
Here is another example of that suspicious finding of hypothermia over the heart region. This again was determined to be due to CAD after DITI detected this asymmetry.
However, due to the breast tissue of women, testing for cardiac function is not as easily seen and additional images need to be taken for a full thermographic assessment of cardiac function.
See if you can determine where there is thermal asymmetry in the images below.
The anterior view may show you slight thermal asymmetry on the left breast due to a linear pattern of hyperthermia (red line) in the inner quadrant of the left breast.
Realize that this client has had three thermal images (initial, 3 month follow up and annual) and all thermal findings in the breast region are stable. There were no suspicious thermal patterns for breast disease, but look a little again...
...can you find the asymmetry seen between the lateral left and right views? Look for hypothermic (cool colors) patterns when you compare both views.
If you can see the blue region over the lateral left thoracic region compared to the right lateral thoracic region, you could be a thermologist in training!
The thermologist’s findings noted that this asymmetrical pattern is suspicious for cardiac dysfunction and further testing was recommended.
Ladies, realize that your cardiac function is also assessed with each of your thermal breast scans. You may not realize this unless there is a suspicious finding, but cardiac and pulmonary function are assessed with each breast scan and more than just breast health is being evaluated.
So the study in the American Journal of Cardiology found that the answer to their first question about thermal asymmetry is a resounding YES – thermal asymmetry is seen 94% of the time in those with significant coronary artery disease.
The second question of the study asks: “Can revascularization reduce thermal asymmetry?” The study cited states that “successful revascularization changed the asymmetric precordial pattern to a more symmetric one.”
This study concluded: “Infrared thermography is a promising technique for the detection of CAD before and after revascularization.” (Am J Cardiol 1993; 72: 894-896)
Heart disease is one of the top killers in our country and unfortunately, in about 50% of the cases of CAD, the first symptom is a fatal heart attack or sudden cardiac death. I have several friends whose fathers passed away suddenly due to cardiac arrest and of those fathers, many had been given a clean bill of health by their PCP just prior to their passing.
Since DITI is a preventative screening, if you or your loved one is interested in having a thorough cardiac evaluation, you would want the following images taken:
Carotid Artery Screening (head/neck): Those who are diagnosed with CAD or are scheduled for surgery (bypass) are told to have a carotid ultrasound because disease or blockages in the heart may also be found in other arteries. This woman had further testing that revealed a right carotid occlusion (blockage).
Along with screening for occlusions, my thermologists look for increased thermal activity in your carotid arteries and IF they find this, they suggest you have a C–Reactive Protein (h/s CRP) test to measure the amount of inflammation in your body.
Elevated CRP AND lots of thermal activity in your carotid arteries shows a STRONG correlation to the early development of CAD.
Chest/Breast Imaging: Naturally, this region is imaged for women who come in annually for comparative studies. Please know that the woman who shows thermal asymmetry on the lateral left compared to her lateral right side (breast images above) was just in for her annual breast scan. I know that a few of my clients prefer to come in every 2 years and I strongly encourage you to re-examine this decision.
Breast imaging is NOT like mammography which simply looks for a tumor/calcification. Mammograms have their place, but a positive mammogram offers NO opportunity to intervene early with diet and lifestyle changes as it is not a preventative screening tool.
Also, mammograms do NOT offer cardiac or pulmonary function assessment or lymphatic congestion, hormonal imbalances, neovascularity screening. . .all which contribute to poor health and increase risk for disease development.
Abdominal Imaging: Often, someone with Congestive Heart Failure also has a congested liver so imaging this region may help guide further testing and/or healing modalities to consider. Also, imaging this region can help rule in/out GERDs as the symptoms can sometimes be similar. Kidney function plays a big role in blood pressure regulation, so imaging of kidneys is done with abdominal scans, too.
Lastly, we would want to do a leg scan looking for peripheral artery disease (PAD) as that too is a concern for those with CAD.
As you can see, using DITI to assess cardiac function is a great idea and having your annual breast scan to detect any suspicious findings is a great start. However, if you want to use DITI to help detect early signs for the possibility of developing CAD, you would want more than just the breast scan. A full body and breast/chest scan is needed.
As always, we welcome your questions and comments and encourage you to post them here or on our Facebook page!
Yours in health,
Lynda Witt, CCT
Proactive Health Solutions, LLC