Non-Invasive Cardiology for More Accurate Diagnosis
Cardiovascular experts at The Heart Hospital use non-invasive diagnostic procedures to more accurately diagnose cardiovascular issues. These sophisticated procedures are non-invasive because they are done without invading the surface of the body. The tests are safe and painless and are performed both for patients in the hospital and as an outpatient. Our board-certified cardiologists and nationally accredited technologists effectively use these non-invasive methods to determine any irregularities or issues with the heart.
EKG Detects Cardio Electrical Rhythm
An EKG is an electrocardiogram, a test that detects and records the heart's electrical activity. It is often performed as part of a routine physical exam. The heart’s electrical signal actually sets the rhythm of your heartbeat. Determining any irregularities in this rhythm helps to identify any cardiovascular issues.
Stress Testing to Monitor Activity Levels
Combined with EKG, stress (or exercise) tests are vital diagnostic tools in heart care. Stress tests are given to see how the heart performs when asked to work harder. First, the patient is connected to EKG equipment to monitor heart rate and rhythm and then usually walk on a treadmill to produce "stress." If the patient is unable to walk, medication may be used to produce the same effect as exercise.
To make the test more specific, it may be combined with an infusion of a nuclear material (this is called a nuclear stress test), in which a radioactive isotope is injected through a vein. It moves through the bloodstream and settles in the heart muscle. A special camera is then used to take pictures of the blood flow in the heart muscle before and after stress testing. These before and after images are compared for a mismatch in blood flow that would indicate a possible coronary artery obstruction.
Advanced 3D Echocardiogram Provides Pictures of the Heart
Echocardiography is another non-invasive diagnostic test that uses ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to create pictures of the heart. The sound waves are sent into the body by a small transducer placed on the patient's chest. The sound waves bounce off of structures in the body and are reflected back through the transducer to the computer, which analyzes the information and creates images of the heart. These images are recorded for the physician to interpret and help diagnose a variety of heart problems.
Sometimes the physician will order a stress echocardiogram to look at the wall motion of the heart while it is working harder under "stress". The stress can be induced by a treadmill, bicycle or medication.
Transesophageal echocardiogram is a more invasive test where the patient swallows a small, flexible probe. Because of the close proximity of the esophagus to the heart, this type of echocardiogram can produce much clearer images of the structure of the heart when needed.
Regardless of which echocardiogram your physician orders, the advanced 3D capability of the echocardiography at The Heart Hospital provides vivid, anatomically clear images, enabling your physicians to render the more accurate diagnosis.
Cardiac Holter Monitoring
Cardiac Holter monitoring records a patient’s heart rhythm over a period of time. The patient is connected to the small, portable monitor with several electrodes placed on the chest wall. The Holter monitor then records the heart’s rate and rhythm over a 24-hour period. An event monitor is a similar device that records the heart’s rate and rhythm for a longer period of time.
State-of-the-Art Cardiac MRI for High Resolution Images
Advanced cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology uses large magnets and radio-frequency waves to create moving images of the heart throughout its pumping cycle. Our state-of-the art MRI units provide high-resolution images of our patients' hearts, allowing cardiologists to identify abnormal heart muscle and to assess cardiac structure and function.
Tilt Table Test for Blood Pressure Issues
The tilt table test determines if a person is passing out because of a significant drop in blood pressure or heart rate. With this procedure, patients are connected to EKG and blood pressure monitors and the table tilts position from lying to standing. The monitors are able to capture the changes in blood pressure and heart rates.
For a physician referral to The Heart Hospital, call St. Joseph's/Candler CareCall at (800) 622-6877.