A heart may be just the size of a fist or two but definitely is the most important organ of the human body. It is the foundation of survival because it pumps blood to all other organs in the body. Hence, it is critical to ensure that our health is healthy and strong. Proper care, healthy diet, disciplined lifestyle are important determinants to maintain good heart health. It is also vital to get cardiology diagnostic tests done to assess the heart condition. Also, for those suffering from a heart problem or are witnessing symptoms that could potentially indicate one, it is always advisable to know cardiology diagnostic tests and cardiology diagnostic procedures that could help, such as:
Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG is a fairly common cardiology diagnostic procedure which helps to record electrical signals from the heart to detect irregularities in the rhythm and structure of the heart. This cardiology diagnostic test records the heart’s rhythm on a moving strip of paper or as a line on a monitor. It is one of the main techniques to detect arrhythmia – any variation in the normal rhythm of the heartbeat. An ECG can also be used to know cholesterol clogging heart’s blood supply, any previous heart attack, enlargement of the heart, etc. It is a safe, painless, and quick test.
Holter Monitoring: A cardiology diagnostic test where your heartbeat is monitored 24 hours to record heart’s activity, its rhythm, and heart rate. A holter monitor is a small, portable device, powered by a battery and is a size of small camera with wires electrodes that attach to the skin. The doctor might ask you wear this device to get more readings that a normal, routine ECG. The length of monitoring could depend per case; it can even stretch from 24 hours to 48 or 72 hours depending on need. This is also a very effective method to record arrhythmia. The patient might be asked to list all symptoms experienced while wearing the monitor.
Echocardiogram: Echocardiogram or more popularly known as an Echo is a very important cardiology diagnostic test that outlines the heart’s movement over a period of time. An Echo provides graphic pictures of the heart’s valves, chambers to help the doctor evaluate the functioning of the heart specifically its pumping action. During an echo, a hand-held wand is placed on your chest that sends high-frequency sound waves that provide clear picture of the heart – electrodes detect heart rhythm while ultrasound technology provides picture of blood flowing through the heart. This is a completely non-invasive cardiology diagnostic test and is often suggested by doctors to eliminate any heart problem symptoms.
Stress Test: This is a modification of the regular cardiology diagnostic tests and records the heart rate and rhythm by raising your normal heart rate with exercise or medicine.The doctor might ask you to run on the treadmill, cycle, take a walk or run, etc. to know the response of the heart beat to the physical activity and how fast can it return to normalcy.
Cardiac Catheterization: In this cardiology diagnostic test, a small, flexible, short tube is inserted into a vein or artery in the leg or arm.A guide catheter – a hollow, flexible tube is then inserted into the short tube to get pictures of the heart by guiding the tube to reach the heart via X-ray images on the monitor. The doctor then inserts a dye to get clear pictureof the heart blood flow, blood vessels, valves, etc. to detect any abnormalities or blockages.
Cardiac Computerized Tomography Scan: A CT scan – as most of us would know this test as – is a very important and effective cardiology diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and a monitor to get absolutely clear picture of organs, bones, and other tissues. It allows the doctors to take a deeper look into the body and provides more insights than a regular X-ray. This is also very widely used to detect any heart problems. In a CT scan, the doctor will ask you to lie on a table inside of a machine which provides pictures of the heart and chest from different angles through narrow X-ray beams circling inside the machine. This cardiology diagnostic procedure is not very time consuming and is painless.
Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging: Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging or more popularly called MRI is a very powerful cardiology diagnostic procedure that uses strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of the organs and tissues of the body, as per requirement. However, a cardiac MRI specifically will produce comprehensive and exhaustive pictures of the heart and its nearby blood vessels. You would be asked to lie inside a MRI scanner (large tube with powerful magnets) and be asked to stay still. These tests can be used to check for heart and blood vessel functioning, proper structure, and even to plan course of treatment, as well as evaluate the effect of the previous treatment.
That said, a single method, a combination or all of these cardiology diagnostic procedures could be used to detect any heart problems, diseases, and decide the best course of treatment to ensure healthy and sturdy heart condition.