An electrocardiogram is a diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Also known as an EKG or ECG, the electrocardiogram translates the information it receives into a pattern of waves for analysis. An EKG produces a record of waves that correspond to the electrical impulses that occur during each beat of a patient's heart. This non-invasive test is usually performed as part of a routine physical examination, however, it may be performed to investigate the cause of heart-related symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.
A nuclear stress test is similar to an exercise stress test but combines elements of a nuclear imaging exam to provide more accurate results than a standard exercise electrocardiogram. A typical stress test involves the patient exercising on a treadmill while electrodes attached to the body record the heart's response to physical activity. This is done through an electrocardiogram (EKG). During a nuclear stress test, a radioactive dye is injected into the bloodstream. A special scanner is used to detect this substance and capture images of the heart muscle as the patient exercises and rests. This test is performed in your doctor's office. Patients are asked to not eat or drink anything for four to six hours before the exam. A nuclear stress test may be effective in determining the cause of chest pain, checking the prognosis of patients after a heart attack and determining the effectiveness of previous procedures.
Arteries can become blocked in nearly any part of the body, not just the heart. Over time, plaque and other debris build up in the arteries which causes them to become narrowed. This narrowing of the arteries because of the build-up of plaque, known as atherosclerosis, affects blood flow which can lead to serious cardiac complications if left untreated. To unblock the artery, the area with the blockage must be precisely targeted. During a diagnostic procedure, known as an angiogram, a contrast dye is injected into the blood vessels. Using X-ray imaging the location and severity of the blockage is identified. Once this has been done, the angioplasty procedure can be performed to help clear the blockage.
A Holter monitor is a small, portable device that continuously records the heart's rhythms and records the electrical activity of the heart. A Holter monitor may be used to capture information and check an individual's heart rhythm if results of other tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), have been inconclusive. The monitor is worn for 24 to 48 hours during normal activity, and it it records the heart's electrical activity during that time period. Because patients are only hooked up to an EKG machine for a short time, it may not detect any irregularities in the heart rhythm. If symptoms suggest that an individual may be experiencing an irregular heart rhythm, a doctor may recommend wearing a Holter monitor for one to two days. Over that time, the Holter monitor may be able to detect irregularities in the heart rhythm that an electrocardiogram was unable to detect. A Holter monitor may also be used to monitor heart rate after a heart attack or to monitor the effectiveness of new heart medication.
This procedure is performed as a right heart cardiac catheterization in order to detect abnormal blood pressure in the lungs or heart. It takes place under sedation and local anesthesia so that the patient remains able to respond to instructions. Patients may experience some uncomfortable pressure during the process.The catheter is inserted through a small incision in a vein, usually in the groin. X-ray images help the surgeon to guide the tube into the right atria (upper chamber) of the patient's heart. The patient is monitored throughout the procedure using an electrocardiogram. For extremely ill patients, the catheter may have to remain in place for several days.
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