The human heart is the hardest-working organ in the body—ceaselessly pumping blood to keep the body constantly supplied with oxygen and nutrients while ridding it of its waste products.
Just like you would your car engine, you need to get routine cardiac screenings to ensure your heart is working optimally. These also help your doctor identify manifestations of cardiovascular problems, especially if you are already showing symptoms or have strong risk factors for it.
Listed below are a few of the most widely used cardiac testing methods, each of which fulfills a specific function and complements the results of another.
Electrocardiography (ECG) is a straightforward cardiac testing procedure for checking various heart conditions.
During the procedure, the technician will attach electrodes to your chest, arms, and legs. The electrodes are connected by live wires to an ECG machine, which records the natural electrical impulses from your heart muscle to monitor irregularities.
An ECG is recommended for patients with unexplained chest pain, heart palpitations, or suspected heart disease. It is used to detect:
- Arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm)
- Tachycardia and bradycardia (too fast or too slow heart rate)
- Coronary heart disease (a condition in which the heart’s blood supply is blocked by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries)
- Myocardial infarction (heart attacks)
Echocardiography, also called echo, is a test that utilizes high-frequency sound waves to produce live images of your heart.
During the procedure, the technician will attach electrodes connected to an electrocardiograph monitor to your chest. Once you’re comfortable, they will place the transducer on several areas of your chest to take detailed pictures of your heart.
An echocardiogram is used to:
- Examine heart function
- Identify signs of heart disease
- Monitor the progression of valve disease
- Check the effectiveness of medical treatment for heart disease
Nuclear Cardiac Stress Testing
Like a regular stress test, a nuclear cardiac stress test evaluates how the heart functions under physical activity. The only difference is that includes imaging and uses radioactive dye to measure blood flow during rest and exercise. This form of cardiac testing determines a person’s risk of developing a heart attack or other potentially fatal cardiac events.
Before the procedure, the technician will inject a special dye into your arm. A special imaging machine captures this dye flowing through your heart while you are at rest.
The machine will capture another set of images while you are exercising. Your doctor will ask you to perform physical activity to rev up your heart rate. Generally, you should continue exercising until your heart rate reaches the target set by your doctor.
If the result of your nuclear cardiac testing indicates normal blood flow during exercise and rest, you may no longer need to undergo further tests.
Reduced blood flow while resting and exercising may signify that your heart is not receiving enough blood. This is a possible indication of severe coronary artery disease or a previous heart attack.
Holter Monitoring Test
If an electrocardiogram does not give your doctor sufficient information, they may also order a Holter monitoring test.
A Holter monitor is a wearable device that tracks heart rhythm. The device is small enough that it can just be attached to your belt or strap under your clothes. Some modern versions of the device are wireless, making it more convenient to wear.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you wear it for one to two days.
Cardiac Testing in Irmo, SC
For state-of-the-art cardiac testing, visit SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation today. We offer comprehensive diagnostic services, which include electro/echocardiography, nuclear cardiac stress tests, and Holter monitoring tests. We combine advanced technology with our providers’ unrivaled skills to produce detailed and accurate results, allowing your attending physician to efficiently diagnose and plan treatment for heart disease.
To schedule an appointment for cardiac testing, call us at (803) 749-1111 today or fill out our online appointment request form.