Tests for Heart & Vascular Disease

64-Slice Computerized Tomography

CT (computed tomography), sometimes called a CAT scan, uses special x-ray equipment to obtain image data from different angles around the body. A computer is then used to process the information to demonstrate a cross-section of body tissues and organs. The 64-slice scanner represents a significant upgrade in CT technology that helps doctors diagnose cardiac and vascular disease better and faster for inpatients, thereby leading to earlier treatment and faster recovery.

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Echocardiogram

An echocardiogram is an ultrasound exam that uses sound waves to evaluate the size, pumping strength and valves of the heart. Specialized tests include:

Transesophageal: An ultrasound exam that uses sound waves to evaluate the size, pumping strength and valves of the heart. Sound waves are captured via a probe that is placed in the esophagus. Patients are lightly sedated for this procedure.

Stress Echo: An ultrasound exam that uses sound waves to evaluate the size, pumping strength and valves of the heart. The heart's function is assessed at rest and immediately following exercise (usually walking on a treadmill.)

Pediatric Echo: An ultrasound exam performed on infants and children under the age of 15 to evaluate the size, pumping strength and valves of the heart. Very young children may require light sedation to keep them calm during the procedure.

Dobutamine Stress Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram using medication to exercise the heart in order to evaluate heart function. This test is used if a patient is unable to walk on the treadmill.

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Vascular Ultrasound

A vascular ultrasound uses sound waves to examine abnormalities in veins and arteries. Specialized tests include:

Carotid Duplex Exam: An ultrasound exam to examine the arteries that supply blood to the head. This test is used to detect blockages that may have caused a stroke or stroke-like symptoms.

Venous Duplex Exam: An ultrasound exam to examine veins in an extremity that has pain and swelling to rule out blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Arterial Duplex Exam: An ultrasound exam to evaluate arteries in an extremity that has pain or cramping.

Renal Artery Exam: An ultrasound exam to evaluate the renal artery blood flow when a patient has unexplained or uncontrollable hypertension.

Abdominal Aortic Exam: An ultrasound exam used to examine the abdominal aorta for aneurysm or other abnormalities.

Superior Mesenteric Duplex: An ultrasound exam to evaluate the superior mesenteric artery and celiac arteries in patients with sudden weight loss.

Transcranial Doppler: A Doppler exam to evaluate intracranial arteries for spasm and blockages.

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Electrocardiogram (EKG)

The electrical impulses generated by the heart are recorded on graph paper to aid in the diagnosis of heart disorders. Specialized tests include:

  • Holter Monitor: A Holter Monitor is worn for 24 hours to record the electrical activity of the heart (EKG) while you go about your daily activity. This test is used to capture transient or abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Event Monitor: An Event Monitor is worn for up to 30 days to detect infrequent disturbance in the hearts rhythm.
  • Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor: A monitor worn for 24 hours to record multiple blood pressure readings throughout the day. This test is used to determine the degree and duration of hypertension.

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Exercise Stress Test

A test used to assess the effect of stress (exercise) on the heart. The patient is exercised (usually on a treadmill) to increase the heart rate while the EKG, blood pressure and symptomatic response are monitored to detect heart problems. Specialized tests include:

  • Myocardial Perfusion: A diagnostic test using radioactive tracers to visualize the flow of blood to the heart muscle and aid in diagnosing narrowed or blocked vessels. This test is done in addition to the exercise stress test.
  • Cardiopulmonary Exercise Stress Test: An exercise stress test used to assess the lungs and heart at the same time. This test can be very useful in helping a doctor make a specific diagnosis between the extent of problems that may be originating from either source.

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