Understand Cardiology Tests and Treatments

24-Hour Emergency Treatment Close to Home

Stethoscope on data sheet

At Great River Medical Center, patients have access to comprehensive diagnostic tests and treatment options.

Angiogram

An X-ray test that uses a special dye and camera to take pictures of the blood flow in an artery or a vein. Common angiograms examine arteries near the:

  • Aorta (aortogram)
  • Brain (cerebral angiogram)
  • Head and neck (carotid angiogram)
  • Heart (coronary angiogram)
  • Legs or arms (peripheral angiogram)
  • Lungs (pulmonary angiogram)

Angioplasty

The goal of angioplasty is to open blood vessels and increase blood flow to the heart. It is done when arteries are narrowed or blocked from coronary artery disease. Angioplasty can be done with or without a small, wire-mesh tube called a stent.

Cardiac Catheterization

This is an imaging procedure that identifies heart disease by allowing a cardiologist to “see” how well the heart is functioning. During the test, a long, narrow tube called a catheter is inserted into a blood vessel in the arm or leg and guided to the heart with the aid of a special X-ray machine. Contrast dye is injected through the catheter so X-ray movies of valves, coronary arteries and heart chambers can be created.

Cardiac Calcium Scoring Test

During cardiac calcium scoring testing, patients lie down on their backs, and they are scanned in a computed tomography (CT) unit. Special images are taken of the heart while the patient holds his or her breath for about 20 seconds. Special cardiac-scoring software measures the amount of calcium in coronary arteries. Radiologists interpret the information and send the results to the patient’s health care provider within a week after the test.

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Echocardiogram

High-frequency sound waves produce images that show cardiologists how well blood is moving through the heart.

Holter and Cardiac Event Monitoring

Small, portable, noninvasive devices record heart activity as a patient goes about regular activities. A patient wears a Holter monitor usually for 24 or 48 continuous hours, and notes in a diary the time and description of every symptom. The patient may wear an event monitor for up to 30 days, pressing a button to record an electrocardiogram when symptoms occur.

Leg Pressure Testing (ABI)

Using blood-pressure cuffs on both ankles and both arms, this painless examination determines how well blood is flowing to all four extremities.

Nuclear Stress Test

A nuclear stress test, also known as a myocardial perfusion imaging study, uses an imaging contrast agent called a radiotracer to take pictures of the heart during stress and rest conditions. The images are evaluated to look for changes that may indicate heart blockages.

Preoperative Cardiac Clearance

Cardiac clearance includes a variety of testing as a basic means of evaluating suitability for – and the risk of – heart and vascular procedures.

Stenting

A minimally invasive procedure using catheter technology - inserting the device attached to a catheter in a large artery - and advancing it to the site of the damage. To keep a narrowed artery open permanently, an interventional cardiologist inserts a collapsed wire-mesh tube called a stent into place and expands it into the artery wall by inflating a balloon.

In renal and peripheral angioplasty and stenting, an interventional cardiologist uses techniques like those used in the heart arteries to open plaque-narrowed arteries in the legs.

Stress Testing

To test how well the heart handles added work, patients walk on a treadmill while a monitor tracks blood flow through the heart's arteries.