Heart Tests for Health

Heart Tests for Health: What You Should Know

stop a heart attack The health of your heart directly affects the life you’re able to live and enjoy. Many advances in cardiology and heart health public awareness have helped countless people maintain good heart health, and prevent or recover from heart disease. Years ago, various forms of heart disease were only diagnosed following a heart attack or other cardiac emergency. Nowadays, there are many procedures that help cardiologists and their patients catch heart disease in its early stages so a treatment plan can be created to maintain the patient’s good health and help prevent deterioration.

The following procedures are commonly used to determine overall heart health and problematic issues, and can be performed in many hospitals, out-patient facilities, and even mobile cath labs.


Heart Diagnostic Procedures

Non-Invasive Procedures
Cardio Stress Tests. Many people are familiar with a cardiac stress test in which electrodes, which are attached to the skin on the chest area, record the function of your heart as you walk on a treadmill. Though a stress test can be physically tiring and difficult for someone in poor physical health, it’s a useful and effective procedure for uncovering the cause of chest pains, determining a safe fitness level and diagnosing coronary artery disease (CAD). Stress tests are usually conducted at the hospital on an out-patient basis.

Electrocardiography. An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) measures the electrical activity of the heart by way of electrodes attached to the chest, rib area and on the arms and legs. ECGs are used to diagnose abnormalities of the heart, such as problems with heart rate or size of the pulmonary chambers. Conducted as an out-patient procedure, the history of the ECG dates back to 1872.

Computer Imaging. Computer imaging, also known as tomography, involves the use of different types of scans to gather images of the heart. Most people have heard of a CT scan, CAT scan or PET scan. These diagnostic procedures involve a scanning device that moves over the body or one in which the body passes through the device, ultimately creating a 3-D image of the heart. Computer imaging helps diagnose cardiac masses, pericardial disease or aortic disease.

heart checks

Invasive Procedures
Angiogram or Cardiac Catheterization. An angiogram is a type of x-ray that allows doctors to see inside the blood vessels of the heart. This invasive procedure is conducted with local anesthesia and helps your doctor to find blockage in the arteries or evaluate the function of the heart muscle. You may experience some discomfort in the thigh area where the catheter is inserted and must take it easy for a few days following this same-day procedure.

Echocardiogram. The transesophageal echocardiogram involves passing a tube into the esophagus by way of the throat. Those with a gag reflex may experience some discomfort, but the procedure lasts only 10 to 30 minutes. The ultrasound images produced during the procedure help detect heart abnormalities while viewing the small details of the heart.

Electrophysiologic Tests. This type of procedure combines ECG and catheterization by feeding small catheters with electrode-covered tips into the various blood vessels of the heart. Often used to find and locate abnornmal heart rhythms, this procedure provides greater detail than an ECG can give.

Primary health care and a healthy lifestyle are two vital components of preventative heart health care. If concerns about heart health arise due to family history or symptoms that have manifested, it’s best to speak with your physician or cardiologist to determine the problem as early as possible. The above procedures are just a few that help cardiologists worldwide determine the current condition of the heart with the ultimate goal of helping you enjoy a strong and healthy heart for as long as possible.

Drew James produces online content for Modular Devices. When he’s not working on his raised bed gardens, you can find him running urban trails and bike paths all over the Midwest.

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