Also known as an EKG or ECG, an electrocardiogram is a simple, painless test that checks for problems with the electrical activity of your heart. Electrocardiograms help determine the cause of symptoms of heart disease such as unexplained chest pain, irregular heart beat, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
This non-invasive test utilizes ultrasound waves to provide a quick and extremely accurate assessment of the overall health of the heart. It can provide a wealth of helpful information when searching for congenital heart, pericardial, and valvular diseases.
By passing a small, thin tube down the throat into the esophagus, physicians can assess the overall function of the heart's chambers and valves. To reduce discomfort, the back of the patient's throat is sprayed with a topical anesthetic, sedation to help relax the patient. The patient's heart rate, heart rhythm, breathing, and blood pressure are carefully monitored during the test. The study takes about 30 minutes and the pictures taken of the heart are recorded for later review. This test is often performed when the results from a standard echocardiogram are not sufficient, or when your doctor feels a closer look at your heart would provide a more accurate diagnosis.
This test shows how your heart works during physical stress, and is a useful screening tool for significant coronary artery disease. While connected to an electrocardiogram (EKG) machine, patients either walk on a treadmill or are given an intravenous (IV) medication that simulates exercise. The level of exercise is slowly increased and the patient's symptoms and blood pressure response are consistently monitored throughout. The test continues until you reach a target heart rate, unless complications such as chest pain or an exaggerated rise in blood pressure develop. You will continue to be monitored for 10 - 15 minutes after exercising, or until your heart rate returns to baseline.
A Holter monitor is a continuous recording of a patient's EKG for 24 hours. It helps the physician correlate symptoms of dizziness, irregular heart rhythms (palpitations), or blackouts. It starts with applying EKG electrodes to the chest. Thin wires connect the electrodes to a small tape recorder, which is secured to the patient's belt or slung over the shoulder and neck. The recorder is worn for 24 hours and the patient is encouraged to continue his or her daily activities. A diary or log is provided so that the patient can record activity and symptoms. The Holter monitor has an internal clock which stamps the time on the EKG strips. These can be used to correlate the heart rhythm with symptoms or complaints. After 24 hours, the Holter monitor is returned to the laboratory for analysis.
This is a simple test that can help identify the causes of fainting by detecting a phenomenon known as postural or orthostatic hypotension. It involves placing a patient on a table with a foot-support, then tilting the table upward to a vertical position. The patient's blood pressure, pulse, and symptoms are monitored throughout the test by a nurse and physician.