We use a wide range of diagnostic tests, including:
This ultrasound image of the heart is a common test. This allows us to assess the heart’s overall and regional function. It also shows the size and function of each chamber. Additionally, it shows any abnormality in the heart valves. Doctors typically use this test to evaluate any heart murmurs we may have seen during a physical exam. Echocardiography shows us the heart’s strength.
You do not have to do anything to prepare for an echocardiogram. Your doctor will write a prescription either for a standard test or an exercise echocardiogram. An exercise echocardiogram also incorporates a traditional stress test. Together, these two diagnostic procedures let your doctor assess many exercise-induced abnormalities. This could include blocked arteries or disorders of the heart valves. Echocardiograms do not use nuclear isotopes.
Nuclear Stress Test
This test measures how well your heart responds to external stress. To make sure we get accurate results, please follow these guidelines:
- Bring your referral, if applicable.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for walking.
- Avoid eating or drinking anything with caffeine. This includes tea and coffee (including decaf), soda, chocolate (including candy and ice cream), and certain over-the-counter medications like Excedrin.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions about which medications you should take the morning of the test. If you have any questions, give us a call the day before your test. Please bring your medicines with you to the test.
- Do not eat or drink anything on the morning of your test, except a small sip of water with your medication. If your test is after 12 pm, you can have a light breakfast. Avoid coffee and tea. If you are diabetic, call your doctor for special instructions.
The test takes two to three hours. You will have a 30-minute break in the middle of the test, when you may have a snack. If you bring a snack, make sure it is high in fat and protein.
A Holter monitor consists of the monitor itself and electrode patches. You wear the monitor on a belt or in your pocket. We place the electrode patches on your chest. The monitor records each heartbeat and heart rhythm continuously for a full 24-hour cycle. We provide a diary so you can take note of any symptoms you experience such as palpitations, skipped beats, chest discomfort, or shortness of breath. This way, the physician knows precisely when to focus on your heart rhythm.
Keep the Holter monitor and electrodes dry. Do not shower, bathe, or go swimming while it is on you.
After the 24-hour period, you can remove the electrode patches and put the monitor in a safe place. Bring them to your next appointment for analysis. As soon as you disconnect the electrode patches, the Holter monitor stops recording. After you remove the monitor, you can shower, bathe, or swim. Since the Holter monitor can record more than 100,000 heartbeats in a day, it may take 24 to 48 hours to process your recording. Your physician will call you with a report.
An event monitor is a small device, like a Holter monitor. It comes with several electrodes that you apply to the skin. The device lets us evaluate you over a longer period (usually one to four weeks). The event monitor only records your heartbeat when you push a button. It records several seconds of time before the button is pushed, and several seconds afterwards. Then you transmit the data by phone to your doctor’s office. Most monitors let you make several recordings before you must transmit the data. You cannot get the event monitor wet, so remember to remove it before you bathe, shower, sleep, or swim. Your doctor may provide additional instructions.
When you pick up your event monitor, the technician will show you how to transmit readings back to the practice. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call the office.
This paper clip-sized device, called an implantable loop recorder (ILR), evaluates the heart’s rhythm. We can implant it during an office visit. The device communicates to doctors and nurses via wireless Bluetooth from a monitor in your home, its battery lasts about three years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the device for patients who have episodes of loss of consciousness or prior transient ischemic attack/stroke without a clear cause.
The ILR can help identify dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to recurrent strokes (e.g., atrial fibrillation). It can also help us find recurrent blackouts due to abnormal heart rhythms.
Multi-Gated Acquisition Scan
If your cardiologist suspects coronary artery disease, you may have a multi-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan. This highly accurate scan charts the function of the heart’s ventricles.
Ankle-Brachial Index Test
This safe and painless procedure shows if your legs are getting the proper amount of blood supply.