Drinking chocolate milk may help myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) diagnosis


There is one more reason to love chocolates. A researcher at the Makati Medical Center (MMC) discovered that a chocolate milk drink makes visualization of the heart clearer and easier.

Study done by a researcher, Dr. Sheila Rose B. Aldovino, found that chocolate milk, among different foods tested, is the best one to give to patients prior a myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) to ensure good quality image results.

MPI is a type of diagnostic procedure used to visualize the heart through a single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan. A radioactive dye is introduced intravenously to the patients in order to find the extent and severity of the damage of the heart, evaluate the treatment done to the heart or check the viability of the heart muscle. However, movement and activities in the stomach, liver and intestines may cause unclear results by interfering with the radiation of the SPECT scan. Hence, most doctors delay the procedure from one hour to 4 hours after the last time the patient has eaten.

Nevertheless, previous studies suggested that water and certain foods actually help improving the imaging of MPI by diffusing the activities of the digestive system throughout the abdominal cavity. In the study, entitled, Prospective Study on the Effectiveness of Different Diet Protocols in Decreasing Interfering Abdominal Activity Among Filipinos Undergoing 99mTC Tetrofosmin Resting Myocardial Perfusion Imaging Study, the researcher randomly grouped 120 participants to six different diets prior the procedure to test which diet can help with the visualization of the heart .

Patients were first advised to abstain from eating anything four hours before the procedure. Minutes before the procedure, they were then instructed eat the food assigned to their group. Patients in group one received 110 mL of chocolate milk. Those in group two drunk 450 mL of water. Subjects in group three were not allowed to ingest anything. Patients in group four had 250 mL of diluted lemon juice. Group five and six drunk 150 mL of whole milk, although group six also drunk 450 mL of water afterward.

The six batches of MPI results were compared to each other by evaluating the heart to liver ratio of the imaging produced. Results of the study revealed that the MPI of group who drunk the chocolate milk produced higher heart to liver ratio than the groups who were given water only, milk only and to those who did not ingest anything. On the other hand, even though the group who took the chocolate milk still produced better results than the group who were given diluted lemon juice and those who took both milk and water, the researcher asserted that the difference is miniscule and insignificant, making milk and water combination and diluted lemon juice as effective as the chocolate milk.

The researcher explained that the chocolate milk’s effect can be attributed to displacement of the bowel activity away from the heart once the chocolate fills the stomach and increases the distances between the heart and the intestines. On the other hand, the diluted lemon juice causes the release of secretin. Secretin relaxes the gastric activity by decreasing the blood flow to the stomach. With the milk and water combination, the researcher explained that drinking milk stimulates hepatic clearance of the liver and bowel movement, while drinking water reduces gastric activity. Because the three diets minimize the gastric activity in the stomach, the patients’ MPI produced better imaging.

Emphasizing that drinking chocolate milk produces the highest heart to liver ratio for MPI, the researcher recommended its used for patients undergoing the procedure. Diluted lemon juice and milk and water combination can be used as alternatives for chocolate milk. “Application of one of these diet protocols prior to MPI will make the procedure faster, and this will be more beneficial to the patient and the hospital,” the researcher said.