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Tests for Heart & Vascular Disease

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 like a long-term, portable EKG, or electrocardiogram, which records the heart’s electrical activity while the patient carries on daily life. Several electrodes (small sticky patches) are applied to the chest and connected by wires to the recorder. The electrodes and wires are worn underneath clothing, and the recorder is carried with a shoulder strap. A cassette tape records the information for 24 hours or longer.

Why use a Holter monitor?
A Holter monitoring exam helps your physician determine how your heart responds to normal activities and cardiac medications. It is also used to:

  • Assess transient and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Assess pacemaker function.
  • Evaluate symptoms like dizziness, fainting, irregular heartbeats and shortness of breath.

Is it safe?
Very. There are no risks, pain or complications associated with a Holter monitor exam.

What are the benefits?
It’s an easy way for your physician to learn about potential heart problems or to monitor an existing one.

How soon will I know the test results?
Your test is interpreted by a physician within 24 hours. Your physician will contact you immediately if there are any serious abnormalities. Otherwise your physician will discuss the results with you at your next appointment.

Print a Quick Reference to Holter Monitor (pdf)

Event Monitor

An event monitor is like a long-term, portable EKG, or electrocardiogram, which records the heart’s electrical activity. It can be worn up to 30 days, detecting infrequent disturbances in the heart’s rhythm while the patient goes about daily life. Each time the patient activates the monitor at the start of a symptom, the monitor captures 90 seconds of data.

How does it work?
It uses a “memory loop” to record an EKG before, during and after the onset of symptoms. Patients can transmit the data to the lab by phone 24 hours a day for analysis.

Why use an event monitor?
It can detect transient, or infrequent, arrhythmia (irregularities of the heart rhythm) . The patient must be aware of what symptoms to watch for, because it is the patient who signals the monitor to start recording.

Is it safe?
Very. There are no risks, pain or complications associated with an event monitor.

What are the benefits?
It’s an easy way for your physician to learn about potential heart problems that occur infrequently.

What are the limitations?
The patient needs to be aware of the particular symptoms that occur with arrhythmia in order to activate the device.

How soon will I know the test results?
Transmissions are sent by phone. They are interpreted by a physician within a few hours. If there are any abnormalities, the patient’s physician is contacted immediately. The patient and physician usually discuss the results at a later date.

Print a Quick Reference to Event Monitor (pdf)

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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