“At Kinston Cardiology, we evaluate the patient during a thorough cardiac physical examination, and if needed, we perform other tests like echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), stress test, monitoring the heart rhythm and ultrasound of the arteries to detect blockages before it causes problems,” says Dr. Kirollos.
The following is a review of available diagnostic technologies.
One form of non-invasive testing is the electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). It is a painless test where electrodes are placed on the skin to record the heart’s activity. The test provides information about a patient’s heart rhythm, which may also reveal damage to the heart muscle, as well as unusual conditions, such as an enlarged heart. The results can also be compared to future EKGs to track changes in the condition of the heart.
Stress tests measure whether the heart muscle is receiving an adequate supply of blood. In an exercise stress test, patients walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. The intensity of the exertion is safely adjusted to increase the difficulty of the exercise. As this happens, a medical technician is closely monitoring the patient’s EKG, heart rate and blood pressure.
A portable Holter heart rhythm recorder is used to measure heart performance when a heart rhythm problem is suspected. It is worn by a patient over a period of one to two days. The Holter monitor records a snapshot of the heart’s continuous electrical activity throughout the day and night. “In addition to a patient wearing the monitor, we ask them to keep a log of the activities they do and to note any symptoms and when they occur,” said Dr. Gahlot.
A chest X-ray may be used to identify abnormalities of the heart, lungs and chest bones.
The ultrasound waves generated by echocardiogram examine the chambers and valves of the heart. This test is useful for diagnosing and evaluating many types of heart disease, as well as treatment effectiveness.
Cardiac Computed Tomography
Cardiac computerized tomography, or cardiac CT, looks at detailed three-dimensional images of the heart and its blood vessels. This test is useful for evaluating plaque buildup in the coronary arteries and heart valve problems.
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure that involves guiding a catheter through a blood vessel in a patient’s arm or leg to the coronary arteries. Injected dye is shown on X-ray, enabling the doctor to determine the extent and severity of any blockages. The condition may then be treated using angioplasty or stenting during this procedure.