Understanding the problem is one of the most important parts of what we do at the Via Christi Heart & Vascular Center. That is why we offer a number of non-invasive diagnostic testing services to ensure you have a healthy heart.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a basic test that is often used as a screening tool in tracing of the electrical activity of the heart. This test detects irregularities in the heart rate or rhythm (too fast, too slow, extra beats, irregular rate). A physician may use this test to diagnose a heart attack or it may be ordered prior to surgery to check for cardiac problems. Oftentimes, an EKG can make surgery safer for a patient, by ruling out undetected heart disease. This test will take less than 30 minutes to complete.
This safe, painless procedure uses ultrasound waves to examine the heart. A microphone- like device is held against the patient's chest and moved around to gain different views of the heart. A computer uses information gained from the sound waves sent and received to create an image of the heart shown on a computer monitor. This image shows the heart in motion, the various parts of the heart and blood flow through the heart. Based on this image, a physician will be able to identify if the heart is pumping normally, if there are holes in the heart or if the heart is irregular in size or shape. The Echocardiogram can be combined with a stress or exercise test to see how the heart operates while at work. This test will take between 30 minutes and 1 hour to complete.
A small heart rhythm monitor is worn for 24 to 48 hours while doing normal daily activities. A log is kept by the patient so that the physician can associate the patient's activity with the heart's rhythm and activity. The monitor can also provide data on the heart's rhythm or a problem over a more extended period of time than other types of tests like the EKG. This type of test is ordered by both primary care physicians and cardiologists.
A small heart monitor is worn for up to 30 days of long term observation of the heart rate and rhythm. The event monitor is used for patients who may not have daily symptoms. The patient wears the monitor and presses a record button when they experience symptoms. The data recorded on the device can then be transmitted over a phone line to a company that then prepares a report for the treating physician.
Stress tests are used to assess one's ability to tolerate an increasing intensity of exercise while monitoring the patient's heart, blood pressure, pulse and symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath. A normal stress test will take about 1 hour to complete.
Pharmacological stress test
During this type of stress test, medications are given to the patient through an IV to stimulate the heart as though the body was exercising. This test is done in cooperation with nuclear imaging or an echocardiogram. The Pharmacological stress test can take between 1 and 2 hours to complete.