You are probably familiar with this standard non-invasive test that records the heart's electrical impulses. Your doctor uses an EKG test to detect abnormalities in your heart's rhythm.
Electrical activity is transmitted through leads - or tiny electrodes - placed on your chest. If you're not experiencing any symptoms of heart distress, this test may be recommended by your doctor. It's quick, easy and completely painless. An EKG may also be used as a basic evaluation tool prior to surgery.
At the Cardiac Care Center, we have the latest technology for administering non-invasive stress tests to patients who may be experiencing early signs of heart disease, such as chest pain or shortness of breath.
During this procedure, you'll walk or run on a treadmill while the speed and/or grade is gradually increased. Approximately one minute before you reach your maximum exercise capacity, you may be injected with a small amount of a radioisotope (producing less radiation than an X-ray) that is absorbed by your heart and can be seen as a bright area by a camera. This allows your doctor to have a clear picture of how your heart is functioning. Some patients may not exercise but are given a drug, which mimics exercise.
You will also have a rest scan that can be done on the same day. By reviewing both tests, your doctor can more accurately determine what the next course of action should be.
Echocardiography and vascular ultrasound are other forms of testing that use ultrasound to show your doctor a two-dimensional picture of your heart at work. Like the stress test, this procedure is normally performed on patients exhibiting early signs of heart disease.
By examining an ultrasound image of your heart, your doctor can detect evidence of structural and functional abnormalities in the heart muscle and coronary vessels. Our color-flow mapping and Doppler studies are sophisticated techniques that enable our physicians to measure the heart's ability to pump blood across heart valves and pinpoint valve malfunctions or congenital (hereditary) heart disease.
In more complex cases, our doctors can perform a more sophisticated technique using an ultrasound probe that is attached to a tube and placed into the esophagus to obtain a clearer image of your heart. This procedure is called Transesophageal Echocardiography.
With the help of our highly experienced cardiology staff, Uniontown Hospital has developed one of the most sophisticated Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories in Western Pennsylvania.
During a heart catheterization (or "cath") a long, thin tube, or catheter, is inserted into the body and moved through a blood vessel until it reaches your heart. Once it's in place, dyes are injected and clear pictures are made of the heart and arteries.
Angiography is an example of a diagnostic procedure that uses catheterization, along with high-tech digital radiography, to show your doctor very detailed images of the heart and any blockages you may have. A dye is injected through the catheter and, using digital fluoroscopy equipment, your cardiologist can see your entire coronary and artery system.
The angiogram will ultimately show the extent of disease in the coronary arteries and allow your cardiologist to evaluate your situation carefully and make the appropriate decisions for treatment. Some angiograms show that the arteries are normal. In other cases, heart disease may be detected and options such as medication, balloon angioplasty, stenting or surgery may be recommended by your doctor.
The digital image can then be interpreted by the invasive cardiologist performing the procedure. The entire procedure takes about an hour, and requires only local anesthetic and sedation. As an outpatient, you may even return home the same day.