Cardiac and Vascular Diagnostic Tests
The types of diseases, injuries, and congenital (present at birth) or acquired abnormalities that can affect the heart can be wide-ranging and complex. Therefore, new and advanced diagnostic tests are regularly introduced to help heart specialists understand those complexities and treat the conditions.
Below is a list of some of the diagnostic tests currently used to understand and identify cardiovascular disease. For more specific information, speak with your cardiologist or other healthcare provider. Ask your primary physician for a referral for a cardiologist to get started.
An EKG is a painless test that shows how rapidly your heart beats. It also evaluates whether your heart rhythm is steady or irregular. The strength and timing of electrical signals passing through your heart are also measured.
EKGs are most often ordered by your physician to evaluate what may be causing irregular heartbeats, chest pain and other heart symptoms. They also check the condition of your heart before surgery and can evaluate how well some heart medications may be working for you.
Nuclear Stress Tests
When an EKG stress test does not provide to diagnose heart disease, a nuclear stress test goes a step further. A radioactive substance is injected into the blood, goes to the heart, and is visible in a scan.
We take two sets of scans:
- While your heart is at rest
- After exertion
With this test, we can detect if blood flow is compromised to parts of the heart or if there’s damaged or dead heart muscle. It also tells us about your heart chamber size and how well it pumps blood to your body.
Holter or Ambulatory Monitoring
An EKG machine takes heart activity measurements on a continuous basis for 24-48 hours. We monitor for irregularities in heart rhythm and rate during different types of activities such as exercise, work, and sleep.
ECG TracingStress Test (Treadmill or Exercise ECG)
This test is performed by monitoring the heart while a patient walks on a treadmill. Breathing and blood pressure rates are also monitored. This type of test may be used to detect coronary artery disease. It can also determine what are considered safe levels of exercise for you if you’re recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery.
There are different types of stress tests for evaluating different heart conditions. Your cardiologist can determine which one is most appropriate for you.
Echocardiography, also known as an “echo,” is a hand-held ultrasound whereby high-pitched sound waves create an image of your heart’s size, structure and activity. This image can reveal the overall health of your heart and can tell your cardiologist and you if there are any abnormal rhythms and heart valve performance concerns that should be addressed.
- Treadmill Echo (Stress Test) compares your EKG at rest to your EKG after your heart has been stressed through exercise.
- Dobutamine Echo is a sort of test that uses intravenous medication to mimic the results of exercise on the heart if a patient is unable to walk on a treadmill.
- Transesophogeal Echo (TEE) provides highly detailed ultrasound images by viewing the heart from the inside of the chest–outward. An imaging probe is inserted down the throat, and the physician views the heart through the wall of the esophagus.
A patient is connected to blood pressure and ECG monitors while secured to a table in a prone position, and the table is slanted into a standing position. This test helps to assess whether the patient’s blood pressure drops suddenly or their heart rate slows with these kinds of position changes, which could cause fainting spells.
Diagnostic Cardiac Catheterization (Angiogram)
In this test, your cardiologist places a small catheter into an artery in your upper leg or your wrist or arm, then up into your heart. Next, a dye is injected through the catheter, and x-ray pictures are made that track your blood as it moves through the arteries and chambers of your heart.
This test demonstrates narrowing in the arteries, size of heart chambers, the heart’s ability to pump, heart valves’ ability to open and close, and measurement of pressures within the heart chambers. It can evaluate or confirm if coronary artery disease, valve disease, or aortic disease are present.
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS)
A coronary catheter with a miniature sound-probe tip is threaded through coronary arteries. Using high-frequency sound waves, the catheter produces detailed images that show the insides walls of arteries. This process produces accurate images of the location and amount of plaque that may be present in the arteries.
Fractional Flow Reserve (FFR)
During an FFR, a type of wire is threaded through an artery while a vasodilator medication is dispensed. This test serves as a high-quality stress test for a short segment of the artery.
Cardiac Mapping System
Mapping systems use mapping catheters to measure the electrical activity of cardiac tissue and create comprehensive three-dimensional electroanatomic mapping of your patients’ hearts. Over the past 10 years, advances in cardiac mapping technology have provided improvements in stability, accuracy, speed and overall functionality.