ECG is a great and quick too routinely used to assess the electrical and mechanical function of the heart. It provides clinical information such as heart block, unstable coronary artery disease, features of previous heart attack, etc. It is a relatively simple study to perform. Rarely patient may develop a temporary reaction to the electrodes sites.
An echo study uses ultrasound waves to produce a moving picture of the heart. This test allows the doctor to learn about the size, shape and function of the heart muscle, valve and pressure within the cardiac system. An echocardiogram typically takes 30 – 45 minutes to complete, usually close to 100 images taken. It offers NO radiation exposure. No special preparation for this test.
Left Ventricular (LV) Function Study
LV study is also known as Multiple-gated acquisition scan (MUGA), it provides information about blood flow in the heart and the pumping function of the heart during rest. A radioactive tracer added to the patient’s blood, the heart function is assessed using a scanner. No dietary restrictions are required.
Holter is a portable device worn for 24 to 72 hours that allows the continuous recording of the heart electrical activity. The electrodes are stuck onto patient’s chest. Patient will keep a diary to report activities and symptoms. While on monitor, avoid electric blankets, magnetic field and metal detectors. No special preparation is required, rarely patient may develop a temporary reaction to the electrodes sites.
Loop recorder is a small cellphone-sized device with enough battery life to support heart electrical activity monitoring for 2 weeks. It is usually used in patients with infrequent symptoms, which may not be picked up by Holter monitor. Patient can remove the electrodes during showering, swimming, etc. The recordings can be transmitted to the monitoring centre, depends on the device models. No special preparation is required, rarely patient may develop a temporary reaction to the electrodes sites.
Treadmill Exercise Stress Test
The treadmill test is a simple test to determine the effects of exercise on the heart. The exercise allows doctors to diagnose the presence of significant coronary artery disease, heart response to exercise or to detect for arrhythmias. Patient to come with comfortable walking shoes, notify the stress lab if Viagara (sildenafil citrate) used within 24hr. The test is directly supervised by doctors and may stop earlier if significant abnormalities noted.
A stress echocardiogram combines a stress test and echocardiogram. Patient received limited echocardiogram for heart muscle function, and then to exercise on treadmill or with chemical protocol (dobutamine). Once the heart rate reaches a certain rate, cardiac sonographer will scan the cardiac structure again to allow the comparison of the heart function both before and after exercise. It takes approximately an hour to complete. Patient to come with comfortable walking shoes, notify the stress lab if Viagara (sildenafil citrate) used within 24hr. A crash cart is always on standby in case unexpected events occur.
Nuclear stress test
This study is a nuclear cardiology test to demonstrate any significant reduced blood flows to the heart muscle. A radioactive tracer injected into the bloodstream and scanner used to assess the heart function. Two sets of images are taken, one at stress and another one at rest. This test can be performed with either treadmill stress test or drugs-induced stress. Patient to come with comfortable walking shoes, notify the stress lab if Viagara (sildenafil citrate) used within 24hr
Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)
TEE is a more invasive type of echo study to a better visualization of certain cardiac structure, which normally not well visualized by standard echo study. Patient will be given sedation before the tube-like TEE probe is gradually inserted into through the oral cavity and down the esophagus, which is location behind the heart structure. The probe will release the ultrasound waves to produce images on the echo monitor.
Patient will be requested for no eating and drinking at least 8 hours before and for an hour after the TEE, to be monitored in the recovery before determined safe to be discharged home. No driving or operating heavy equipment for six to 12 hours after the TEE
A coronary angiogram, or occasionally called a dye test is an invasive procedure mainly to show if there are blockages in any of the coronary arteries. It also provides information on heart valves and muscle function. Patient may receive stent angioplasty or cardiac bypass depends on the anatomical structure. Currently most angiograms in Niagara region are performed at St Catharines Site, Niagara Health System and Hamilton Health Science Center. Special preparations and instructions will be provided by cardiac catheterization service.