If your doctor thinks you have heart disease, it’s important to know that Emerson Hospital offers access to a comprehensive array of tests to help make an accurate diagnosis. The tests you’ll need depend on what condition your doctor thinks you may have.
The tests to diagnose heart disease include:
This simple, painless test can help detect fluid in or around your lungs, an enlarged heart, blood vessel problems such as an aortic aneurysm (a bulge in your aorta), congenital heart disease, or calcium build-up in the heart of blood vessels
An ECG records your heart’s electrical signals, helping your doctor detect irregularities in your heart's rhythm and structure
Also referred to as an echo, this test uses sound waves to create pictures of your heart’s chambers, valves, walls and the blood vessels attached to your heart. A probe called a transducer is passed over your chest; it produces sound waves that bounce off your heart and “echo” back to the probe. These waves are changed into pictures viewed on a video monitor.
Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)
This test is a type of echocardiogram that uses a long, thin tube (endoscope) to guide the ultrasound transducer down the esophagus (the “food pipe” that goes from the mouth to the stomach), enabling your doctor to see images of your heart without the ribs or lungs getting in the way.
Also called a treadmill test or exercise test, this helps your doctor determine how well your heart handles its workload. The test can show if there’s a lack of blood supply in the arteries that supply your heart. You’re hooked up to an EKG machine to monitor your heart while you walk at increasing speeds and incline on a treadmill.
Nuclear stress test
This test is almost the same as the exercise stress test, except doctors will give you a small amount of a radioactive substance just before the end of the exercise part of the test. A special camera will take pictures of your heart right after you step off the treadmill, and again a few hours later, enabling doctors to see images of your heart while you’re resting and after you’ve exercised.
Pharmaceutical stress test
If you’re unable to exercise, you may be given a medication intravenously that has the same effect on your heart that exercise does. This test is performed while you lie on an examination table or sit in a chair, with imaging done with your heart at rest and with stress induced by the medication.
A Holter monitor is a portable device you wear to record a continuous ECG, usually for 24 to 72 hours while you go about your daily life. Holter monitoring is used to detect heart rhythm irregularities that aren't found during a regular ECG exam.
This noninvasive exam includes an ultrasound of your chest, and shows detailed images of your heart's structure and function
This is a CT technique used to visualize the blood vessels throughout the body to help diagnose and evaluate narrowed or blocked blood vessels or related conditions, such as aneurysms
This test uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the structures within the heart. It’s used to detect or monitor cardiac disease, and evaluate the heart's anatomy and function in patients with congenital heart disease.
Another important diagnostic test is called cardiac catheterization
(cardiac cath). In this test, a thin, hollow, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into an artery (starting either in your groin or wrist) then, guided by X-ray images on a monitor, your doctor threads the catheter through that artery until it reaches your heart.
With cardiac catheterization, the pressures in your heart chambers can be measured, and dye is injected. The dye can be seen on an X-ray, which helps your doctor visualize the blood flow through your heart, blood vessels and valves to check for abnormalities.
Cardiac catheterization is performed by specially trained interventional cardiologists in state-of-the-art cath labs at nearby tertiary hospitals with which Emerson has affiliations.
Electrophysiology (EP) testing
Similarly, sophisticated electrophysiology testing
to diagnose and locate the source of abnormal heart rhythms is performed by Emerson Hospital electrophysiologists, also at nearby tertiary hospitals with specialized EP labs.
Another test performed in an EP lab is called a tilt table test
(TTT). It’s used to determine the cause of fainting (syncope). In this test, you lie on a bed and are tilted at different angles while machines monitor your blood pressure, electrical impulses in your heart, and oxygen level.