Cardiac Test Procedures - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Cardiac Test Procedures


Coronary Angiography (arteriogram): Coronary angiography is an X-ray examination of the blood vessels of the heart. A very small tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel in your groin or arm. The tip of the tube is positioned either in the heart or at the beginning of the arteries supplying the heart (coronary arteries), and a special fluid (called contrast medium or dye) is injected. This fluid is visible by X-ray, and the pictures that are obtained are called angiograms. This test allows the doctor to look for any blockages, narrowing or other problems restricting blood flow through the coronary arteries.

Echocardiogram (ECHO): An echocardiogram is a noninvasive test that utilizes sound waves to evaluate how well the heart is working. Ultrasound gel is applied to the chest and the technician moves a wand like apparatus over the chest to produce internal images of the heart (very similar to an ultrasound done on pregnant women). The test will help your doctor evaluate how well your heart is moving, how well the valves are working, and the size of the heart and it's chambers.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE): This is a specialized echocardiogram test that allows your doctor to visualize the internal structures of your heart. To accomplish this, your doctor will place a thin flexible tube with a probe on the end down your throat into your esophagus. You will be given some medication to help you to relax and swallow the tube easier. The probe sits in your esophagus just behind your heart. Once the tube is in place the probe will send out sound waves that echo within the chest wall cavity. These images will appear on a video monitor. This test will help your doctor evaluate if there are any congenital defects, heart valve or heart muscle disease, if artificial valves are working properly or to detect any blood clots within certain areas of the heart.

Stress Echocardiogram: This is a diagnostic test combining a stress test done on a treadmill or stationary bicycle with an echocardiogram. The stress test will show any changes occurring in the heart during exercise. The echocardiogram is an ultrasound test that shows the valves and chambers of the heart. The two tests combined enable the doctor to visualize the heart's function during exercise. It is important that you don't have any caffeine (including decaffeinated products) before this procedure.

People who are unable to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle may be given a special medication that increases heart rate and blood pressure similar to the effects of exercise. (See also Pharmacological Stress Test) Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): This is a noninvasive test that records the electrical activity of the heart. Special electrodes are placed on the chest and/or arms and legs and are connected with wires to an EKG machine. The test only takes a few minutes to complete. This test will allow the doctor to evaluate your heart rate and rhythm. It is also used to detect if electrical changes have occurred as a result of a heart attack and what area of the heart was damaged.

Electrophysiology Study (EP Study): The electrophysiology study (EPS) is a test to check the electrical system in your heart. The electrical system of your heart directs how fast or slow your heart beats and determines how it beats. If it is not beating in the right way, it can cause rhythms that may be life threatening. The goal is to find out what treatment will correct the problem.

The doctor will put a long, thin, bendable tube (catheter) into your artery or vein. The artery or vein may be in your arm, neck or groin. He then uses a TV screen and X-rays to gently glide the catheter into your heart. Small wires are put through the larger catheter and guided into different areas of your heart. Electrical signals, under the control of the doctor, will be sent through the catheters to check for problems. Some problems can be treated during the test. If irregular rhythms occur, medicines will be given to change the heart beat back to a normal rhythm. The doctor will find out which one best does the job. Rarely, an electrical shock may need to be given to the heart to get it quickly back to normal.

Heart Scan (EBT): The test is a simple, nonsurgical outpatient procedure that measures your risk for coronary artery disease. It takes only a few minutes to complete and no injections, dyes, fasting or other preparations are necessary. Nor do you need a doctor referral for this test. Heart scan is recommended for those over 35 and highly recommended for persons with the following risk factors: family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, diabetes, no regular exercise program.

Holter Monitoring: The test is a diagnostic test that entails 24 hours of continuous electrocardiographic (EKG) recordings of the electrical activity of your heart. Small electrodes will be placed on the chest area and connected to a small recorder. The patient will keep a 24 hour diary of activities and any symptoms experienced. A return visit is made the following day to remove the monitor. This test will help the doctor evaluate the type and amount of irregular heart beats during regular activities, exercise and sleep.

Nuclear Imaging (Myocardial Perfusion Imaging or Thallium Stress Test)

Myocardial Perfusion Imaging: The test is a diagnostic nuclear cardiology procedure combining a stress test and in injection of an isotope. This test will show any changes occurring in the heart during exercise, evaluate the heart's capacity or tolerance to exercise, and evaluate physical conditioning. The injection of the isotope through an IV (intravenous) line makes the heart visible so the cardiologist can see if the heart is getting enough blood. Test generally is done in one day, but there are occasions where it takes two.

Thallium Stress Test: The test is a diagnostic nuclear cardiology procedure combining a stress test and in injection of an isotope (Thallium or Cardiolite). This test will show any changes occurring in the heart during exercise, evaluate the heart's capacity or tolerance to exercise, and evaluate physical conditioning. The injection of the isotope through an IV (intravenous) line makes the heart muscle visible so any injury or damage that has occurred can be studied. There is no reaction to the Thallium or Cardiolite injection.

Pharmacological Stress Testing (also known as Dobutamine or Adenosine Stress Test): This is a diagnostic test combining administration of a medication that will increase heart rate and blood pressure (stress the heart) with an echocardiogram. The echocardiogram is an ultrasound test that shows the valves and chambers of the heart. The two tests combined enable the doctor to visualize the heart's function during stress. It is important that you don't have any caffeine (including decaffeinated products) before this procedure.

This test is used for people unable to walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike for the stress portion of the test. The medication given will mimic the effects of exercise (stress) on the heart.

Signal-Averaged Electrocardiogram (SAECG): This is a noninvasive diagnostic test that records the electrical activity of the heart. It is similar to a regular electrocardiogram (EKG), but uses computer processing to record lower level signals not normally recorded by a standard EKG. Electrodes are placed on the chest area and connected to a recorder. The test helps the doctor predict the likelihood of high-risk patients developing life-threatening arrhythmias (irregular heart beats).

Stress Test (Treadmill Test): A treadmill stress test records the heart's electrical activity during exercise. This test will help the doctor evaluate a patient's cardiac condition related to irregular heart rhythms, if there is a decrease in blood flow or oxygen to the heart during exercise, how hard the heart can work before symptoms develop, and how quickly the heart recovers after exercise.


Tilt Table Test: The tilt table test may help diagnose patients who have unexplained fainting spells. Fainting can be caused by many reasons. The tilt table test can determine if those fainting spells are caused by heart arrhythmias (abnormal or irregular heart beating). The test utilizes a special table that positions you at various degrees to try to stimulate a fainting spell. If and when a fainting spell occurs, the staff will carefully note your heart's electrical activity, your blood pressure, and any medications you are receiving through an IV. After your heart has resumed normal activity (approx. 30-60 minutes after the test), you will be allowed to go home.