When it comes to your heart health, there are several tests that can be used to determine your heart’s condition. Whether you have a diagnosed problem or are having chest pain, there are several tests that a cardiologist can perform that can provide much needed answers to your specific ailments. These tests can seem similar, but these tests can differ in execution and in what results are shown. It is important that you know what tests are available and what these tests can show so you can be in control of your heart health along with your team of doctors. The specialists at CT Cardio are trained in several different types of cardiac testing, and below are just a few of those tests:
Some of the most used cardiac tests are known as stress tests. Generally, stress tests can show the size and shape of the heart while measuring the blood flow throughout your heart and arteries, highlighting any areas of low blood flow or any heart muscle that may be damaged. These tests are used to guide the treatment of various heart disorders. Specifically, cardiologists can also use these tests to diagnose Coronary Artery Disease in cardiac patients. During this test, the patient has electrodes put onto their chest to measure the heart’s rate and blood flow. Also measured is the patient’s blood pressure and EKG reading. While the patient is walking/jogging on a treadmill or utilizing a stationary bike, the activity becomes more strenuous, and the treadmill may incline. In this way, the blood flow of the heart while stressed can be measured. This is why this test is commonly known as “the treadmill test.” There are very few risks with this type of testing.
Nuclear Stress Test
Another type of cardiac stress test is called a Nuclear Stress Test. This specific stress test also measures blood flow to and from the heart before and during exercise. However, this test uses radioactive dye that is injected into the patient’s bloodstream. In the same way, this test can show cardiologists where areas of low blood flow are within the heart and whether there are any areas of heart muscle damage. During this test, two images of the heart are taken: one while at rest and another after stress/exercise. The patient engages in the exercise to a certain threshold in order to measure the cardiac blood flow, which can guide cardiologists to diagnose the patient with several heart diseases.
Cardiologists can also perform a test called an echocardiograph, or an “Echo.” During this specific test, pictures are taken of the patient’s heart using sound waves. In less than an hour, the patient will lie on a bed and have a probe put over the heart area. This probe will use ultra-high frequency sound waves to produce images of the heart and its valves/arteries. Those pictures and recordings are used to provide details to a cardiologist regarding a patient’s heart health if they have a history of heart murmurs, heart attacks, chest pains, or any heart defect.
During an electrocardiogram, or “EKG,” a cardiologist can test a patient’s electrical activity within their heart. In putting several pads on the patient’s chest, arms, and legs, a patient lies on a table while their heart rate and activity is recorded for a short period of time. This test can show a cardiologist if a patient’s heart is enlarged and/or overworked. It can also show whether the heart has any muscle damage, commonly caused by previous heart attacks.
Other Cardiac Tests
There are several other tests that cardiologists can use. An MRI can be prescribed to assess a patient’s heart valve function. This test uses magnetic fields and radiofrequency waves to show the heart and blood vessels. This test can also show if the patient’s brain has suffered any effects after a stroke and look for scar tissue within the heart muscle. Another cardiac test that can show problems within the heart and its valves is the CT scan/CAT scan. This x-ray scan shows cross-sectional images of a patient’s heart, which can assess the health and structure of the heart while checking for any blockages that are within the valves. A third and less common test that is provided is called a “Tilt test.” This test can help a cardiologist explain why a patient is feeling lightheaded or faint. During this test, a patient lies on a tilting table that measures the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure while being tilted upward against gravity. This test can help identify any changes in heart rate as well as showing any blood pressure drops that may occur.
In conclusion, there are several tests that a cardiologist can order in order to better diagnose and/or treat your cardiac ailments. With these tests available, your team of doctors can better serve you and provide you with the best care possible. If you have any questions about the types of cardiac tests available to you, contact CT Cardio!