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What Are the Risks of Cardiac MRI?

The magnetic fields and radio waves used in cardiac MRI have no side effects. This method of taking pictures of organs and tissues doesn't carry a risk of causing cancer or birth defects.

Serious reactions to the contrast agent used during some MRI tests are very rare. However, side effects are possible and include the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in taste
  • Allergic reactions

Rarely, the contrast agent can harm people who have severe kidney or liver disease. The substance may cause a disease called nephrogenic (NEF-ro-JEN-ik) systemic fibrosis.

If your cardiac MRI includes a stress test, more medicines will be used during the test. These medicines may have other side effects that aren't expected during a regular MRI scan, such as:

  • Arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), or irregular heartbeats
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (feelings that your heart is skipping a beat, fluttering, or beating too hard or fast)
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February 2, 2012