Getting to the Heart of the Problem
The first step in addressing a heart and vascular disorder or pulmonary disorder is to recognize and diagnose the problem. Diagnostic Heart and Vascular Services, available for both inpatients and outpatients at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville, include:
An EKG is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Abnormal activities can assist the physician in diagnosing heart attack or other diseases.
Exercise Stress Test
The treadmill test monitors a continuous EKG during physical exertion with close attention to the blood pressure and heart rate. Its major use is to detect significant coronary artery disease. A stress test is frequently used as part of the evaluation of patients with chest pain and arrhythmias.
Pharmacologic Stress Test
If the patient cannot exercise, a pharmacologic stress test will be used. This involves the use of an intravenous (IV) medication that increases blood flow to the heart or IV medications that simulate the effects of exercise by increasing the heart rate. These stress tests are used in patients who may suffer from severe lung disease, arthritis, stroke, etc.
Pacemakers are miniaturized computers which monitor your heart's natural beat. If necessary they will send out an extra stimulation generating an electric impulse which makes up for your heart's deficiency.
Nuclear imaging uses the IV injection of a small amount of a radioactive substance called "Cardiolite." A special camera is used to take pictures of the heart at 'rest' and after 'stress' (exercise or pharmacologic). These nuclear techniques provide more detailed information than that provided by a regular stress test.
An ECHO takes a picture of the heart using sound waves. It detects abnormalities in the size, function of cardiac chambers and valves of the heart.
Patients with heart rhythm irregularities or slow or rapid heart rhythms, which are not documented in a routine EKG, will usually require some type of home (ambulatory) documentation. The holter monitor is a small compact magnetic tape electrocardiographic recorder.
Cardioversion refers to the process of restoring the heart's normal rhythm from an abnormal rhythm. Most elective cardioversions are performed to treat atrial fibrillation, a benign heart rhythm disturbance originating in the upper chambers of the heart.
Tilt Table Testing
Tilt Table Testing is a procedure used to diagnose whether a patient is fainting as a result of a sudden drop in blood pressure due to a hyperactive reflex that causes blood vessels to suddenly dilate. May be caused by dehydration, emotional stress or standing upright for prolonged periods of time.