An accurate diagnosis is the first step in treating any sort of heart abnormality or disease.
- Blood Tests
- Cardiac Catheterization
- Cardiac MRI
- Chest X-ray
- Computerized Tomography Scan
(CT or CAT)
- Doppler Ultrasound
- Echocardiogram (ECHO)
- Electrocardiogram (EKG OR ECG)
- Electrophysilogy Study (EPS)
- History and physical exam
- Holter Monitoring
- Loop Recorder
- Muga Scan/Viability Scan
- Nuclear Stress Test
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
- Stress Tests
- Pharmacological (Drug-Induced) Stress Tests
- Tilt-Table Test
- Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
- Treadmill Stress Test
Angiography is an X-ray technique where dye is injected into the chambers of your heart or the arteries that lead to your heart (the coronary arteries). The test lets doctors measure the blood flow and blood pressure in the heart chambers and see if the coronary arteries are blocked.
Your doctor will order a series of blood tests to help diagnose your heart disease:
- A cardiac enzyme count, troponin count and other blood chemistry tests can show if the heart muscle has been damaged.
- A lipid profile, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and glucose (blood sugar) levels can help identify your risk factors for heart disease.
- Arterial blood gas studies, which measure how well the blood is being oxygenated in the lungs.
- A B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) test can demonstrate whether the heart is stressed and stretched.
Cardiac catheterization (also called cardiac cath, coronary angiography or heart catheterization) gives your doctor a view of the valves, the heart muscle and coronary arteries at work. If your doctor finds a problem during a catheterization, you may be treated right away.
Cardiac Catheterization Preparation Guide
Cardiac MRI is a test that gives doctors a detailed picture of the heart, including the chambers and valves, without patients having to undergo cardiac catheterization.
Chest X-ray can assess the heart as well as the lungs. It can show if your heart is misshaped or enlarged due to disease as well as blockages, fluid in the lungs and aortic aneurysms. It is the most common X-ray performed.
Computerized Tomography Scan (CT or CAT)
CT, sometimes called CAT scan, is a safe, non-invasive, well-tolerated procedure, which uses specialized X-ray equipment for detailed images from various angles around the body.
Computers process the information and create cross-sectional images, or slices, of body tissues and organs like the heart. CT imaging can show several types of tissue such as lung, bone, soft tissue and blood vessels.
Doppler ultrasound is used to track the speed of blood flow while imaging the heart and blood vessels. It uses sound waves to measure the speed. It can help uncover blockages to blood flow, such as blood clots, plaque buildup and congenital problems.
The echocardiogram uses ultrasound to create video pictures of the heart's chambers, valves, wall motion and blood flow patterns. This test can be done while you are at rest or during a stress test (stress echocardiogram).
Echocardiograms can show the size, shape, and movement of your heart muscle. This test can also show how the heart valves are working and how blood is flowing through your heart.
Electrocardiogram (EKG OR ECG)
The EKG records the heart's electrical activity and shows abnormal heart rhythms. It can even show a heart attack in progress.
Electrophisiology Study (EPS)
An EPS can show if you have or are at risk of having a life-threatening heart rhythm disturbance. The EPS offers clear and accurate information about your heart's electrical system. In some cases, the cardiologist can treat the problem during the test.
EPS Preparation Guide
History and Physical Exam
Your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your health history, your family's health history, and your daily habits. This information will help your doctor decide what further tests you will need.
Your doctor can use the information to develop a treatment plan to relieve some of your symptoms and help make you more comfortable. Your treatment plan may include:
- Medications to help your heart work better
- Changes in your diet to reduce the amount of your salt and sodium
- Rest to give your heart a break
- Activity as recommended by your doctor
- Lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking.
Holter monitoring gives doctors a constant reading of your heart rate and rhythm over a 24-hour period (or longer). The Holter monitor can record heart rate and rhythm when you feel chest pain or symptoms of an irregular heartbeat (called arrhythmia).
A loop recorder is a small device inserted under the skin. Like the Holter Monitor it is used to monitor your heart for irregular beats for several months.
Muga Scan/Viability Scan
A Multigated Wall Motion Study (MUGA or viability scan) shows how well the walls of your heart move. It can also show if and where a wall is damaged. We will give you a small amount of weak radioactive isotope through your IV. As the isotope flows through your heart, a scanner will take pictures.
Nuclear Stress Test
To take the scan, we will give you a small amount of weak radioactive isotope through your IV. On a scan, it will show which areas of your heart muscle are receiving blood.
Pharmacological (Drug-Induced) Stress Tests
This test is for patients who are not able to walk on a treadmill. Like a treadmill test, it evaluates your heart's response to stress, but in this case, medication rather than physical exercise stresses the heart.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
PET scans show the difference between the living and damaged cells in your heart. These scans can help your doctor determine whether medication or surgery would be the most effective treatment for you.
We will give you a small amount of weak radioactive isotope through your IV. As the isotope flows through your heart, the scan shows which cells are damaged.
A cardiac stress test is an EKG done when you are at rest and when your heart is "stressed" or working hard. The test can show how your heart responds to increased workload, including how much work your heart can safely do after you have had a heart attack or heart surgery. The test may involve walking on a treadmill or medications (pharmacological stress test) to increase your heart rate. If your doctor wants pictures of your heart as well as an EKG, he or she may order a nuclear stress test.
If you have sudden or frequent fainting spells (syncope), your doctor may order a Tilt-Table Test. During this test, we will monitor your heart rate and blood pressure as you lie flat on a table. Then we will tilt the table upward, so that you are almost in a standing position. The changes in your heart rate and blood pressure as you change position can show whether it is a heart rhythm problem that is causing you to faint.
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
Like a routine echocardiogram, TEE uses ultrasound to create images. TEE images, however, are clearer because they are taken with a scope from inside your body. Your doctor may order a TEE if the routine echocardiogram cannot answer all of the questions about your heart's structure and function. TEE involves passing a special ultrasound scope through your mouth into your food pipe (esophagus) to take pictures.
Treadmill Stress Test