Heart disease ranks as a leading cause of death across the United States. You can reduce your chances of succumbing to heart disease by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and getting regular medical checkups. Cardiac medical tests can help identify and diagnose conditions that may not be detectable in routine office visits. These noninvasive tests can provide valuable information that could save your life.
The physicians at Eastern Connecticut Cardiology in Manchester, Hartford, and South Windsor, Connecticut, specialize in helping patients identify and treat risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition to comprehensive physical examinations, the staff uses a wide range of cardiac tests to help patients achieve and maintain heart health. If tests identify areas of concern, the staff creates a personalized treatment plan designed to reduce your risk of life-threatening conditions.
Find out more about what’s involved with common non-invasive cardiac tests and the type of information they can provide.
An electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is a quick, painless test that measures your heart’s electrical activity. Every heartbeat is triggered by a carefully timed electrical signal. While irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias, can be normal, they can also indicate coronary artery disease or changes in your heart muscle.
An ECG/EKG involves attaching 10 electrodes to the skin of your chest, arms, and legs with adhesive pads. The electrodes record your heart’s electrical activity while a computer creates a graph of the pattern of these electrical impulses as they move through your heart. The test is usually performed while you’re lying down. An ECG/EKG usually lasts around 10 minutes and provides immediate results.
2. Carotid ultrasound
A carotid ultrasound is a painless imaging procedure that uses sound waves to examine how your blood flows through your carotid arteries. Your carotid arteries, located on either side of your neck, deliver blood from your heart to your brain. A carotid ultrasound assesses how blood flows through these arteries. The information identifies blockages or narrowing, which can increase your risk of stroke.
During the 30-minute test, you may have to lie on your back or sides. A technician glides a small handheld device, called a transducer, along the sides of your neck. The transducer emits high-frequency sound waves and records the echo as the waves bounce off tissues, organs, and blood. A computer translates the sound waves into pictures of the inside of your carotid arteries.
3. Head-to-toe vascular ultrasound
A head-to-toe vascular ultrasound is a painless imaging technique that uses sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of your body. This test can help your physician evaluate your entire circulatory system, detect blood clots, and identify blockages in your arteries and veins.
You typically lie on a treatment table while a technician glides the transducer over your body during the test. High-frequency sound waves travel from the probe into your body and bounce back to the transducer. A computer uses the soundwaves to create an image that shows the structure and movement of the body’s internal organs and blood flow. The test lasts about an hour.
4. Stress test
A stress test is a painless routine assessment that evaluates the health and function of your heart. The test shows how your heart works during exercise. It can reveal problems with blood flow, determine the severity of coronary artery disease, or assess heart arrhythmia.
A stress test involves having adhesive electrodes attached to your body, similar to an ECG/EKG. During the test, you use a treadmill or stationary bike to increase your heart rate or receive a drug that produces the effects of exercise. You may also have to breathe into a tube for a few minutes. A stress test usually lasts about an hour.
5. Tilt table test
A tilt table test assesses how your blood pressure and heart rate respond to a change in your physical positioning. It can be used to evaluate symptoms such as an irregular heartbeat or syncope, dizziness when going from a sitting to standing position. The test mimics the effect of sitting to standing in a controlled setting for evaluation.
During the 45-minute test, you lie on a table while your head is raised above your heart at varying degrees. A technician straps you on to the table, inserts an IV, and attaches ECG/EKG electrodes to your chest and a blood pressure cuff to your arm. If there’s no change during the first part of the test, you receive a medication that mimics an exercising heart rate.
Find out more about non-invasive tests that can assess symptoms and help keep your heart healthy. Schedule an appointment online or call our office for a consultation.