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Because of scarcity of photons emitted from the heart, clinical cardiac SPECT imaging is mainly limited by photon statistics. The sub-optimal detection efficiency of current SPECT systems not only limits the quality of clinical cardiac SPECT imaging but also makes more advanced potential applications difficult to be realized. We propose a high-performance system platform - C-SPECT, which has its sampling geometry optimized for detection of emitted photons in quality and quantity. The C-SPECT has a stationary C-shaped gantry that surrounds the left-front side of a patient's thorax. The stationary C-shaped collimator and detector systems in the gantry provide effective and efficient detection and sampling of photon emission. For cardiac imaging, the C-SPECT platform could achieve 2 to 4 times the system geometric efficiency of conventional SPECT systems at the same sampling resolution. This platform also includes an integrated transmission CT for attenuation correction. The ability of C-SPECT systems to perform sequential high-quality emission and transmission imaging could bring cost-effective high-performance to clinical imaging. In addition, a C-SPECT system could provide high detection efficiency to accommodate fast acquisition rate for gated and dynamic cardiac imaging. This paper describes the design concepts and performance potential of C-SPECT, and illustrates how these concepts can be implemented in a basic system.