An electrocardiogram is a test that screens for problems with the electrical activity of the heart. Electrodes are placed on various areas of the chest and a monitor records the heartbeats onto lines of paper. Electrocardiograms can help determine the causes of chest pain and can detect abnormal heart rhythms.
An echocardiogram uses ultrasound technology (sound waves) to create a moving picture of the heart on a screen. It’s a real-time, 3D picture that can let a physician determine the size of the heart, how it’s functioning and the thickness and movement of the heart wall. It is also the test of choice to evaluate the function of the heart valves.
Chest x-rays are used to create an image of the heart, lungs and chest on film, in order to diagnose heart and lung diseases.
A carotid ultrasound uses sound wave technology on the carotid artery (artery in the neck) to check for narrowing or stenosis. The ultrasound helps to determine if plaque has built up in the artery walls. A narrow artery can lead to stroke.
Nuclear/Treadmill Stress Testing
A stress test is primarily used to identify coronary artery disease. It requires patients to exercise on a treadmill or exercisebicycle while their heart rate, blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG), and symptoms are monitored. A nuclear stress test measures blood flow to your heart muscle both at rest and during stress on the heart. It’s performed similarly to a routine exercise stress test, but provides images that can show areas of low blood flow through the heart and areas of damaged heart muscle. If a patient is unable to exercise, then an intravenous medication called Lexiscan is used instead of the exercise portion of the test.
Holter monitor is a machine that continuously records the heart’s rhythms. The monitor is usually worn for 24 – 48 hours during normal activity. Electrodes (small conducting patches) are stuck onto your chest and attached to a small recording monitor. You carry the Holter monitor in a pocket or small pouch worn around your neck or waist. The data delievered by the monitor can help your physician diagnose irregular heartbeats.
Home Telemetry Monitoring
Remote telemertry is a way to provide continuous monitoring of your heart. A small portable monitor is worn by placing 5 patches (electrodes) to the chest and the monitor fits into a pocket or worn on a belt loop. The electrodes pick up signals from your heart and your physician can see real-time data of your heart.
Using a very small tube passed through the esophagus, a transeophageal echocardiogram can help your physician see the heart’s activity through an ultrasound. Very clear images of the heart can be obtained to help diagnose certain disorders.
Cardiac catheterization and angiography
Cardiac catheterization (or coronary angiogram) involves passing a thin flexible tube (catheter) into the right or left side of the heart, usually from the groin or the arm. The catheter is carefully threaded into the heart using an x-ray machine that produces real-time pictures (fluoroscopy). A contrast agent or dye is inserted into the coronary arteries to diagnose any obstruction to blood flow. If a significant blockage is diagnosed, it may be fixed with a mesh tube called a stent that is placed through the artery without the need for surgery. Occasionally more extensive blockages are diagnosed that required bypass surgery.