Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. With each beat, an electrical impulse (or "wave") travels through the heart. This wave causes the muscle to squeeze and pump blood from the heart. A normal heartbeat on EKG will show the timing of the top and lower chambers.
An EKG gives two major kinds of information. First, by measuring time intervals on the EKG, a doctor can determine how long the electrical wave takes to pass through the heart. Finding out how long a wave takes to travel from one part of the heart to the next shows if the electrical activity is normal or slow, fast or irregular. Second, by measuring the amount of electrical activity passing through the heart muscle, a cardiologist may be able to find out if parts of the heart are too large or are overworked.
There is no pain or risk associated with having an EKG. There may be some minor discomfort when the EKG stickers are removed.
At Heywood Hospital EKG tests are generally done on outpatients in the Cardiopulmonary Department between the hours of 7 am and 3 pm Monday through Fridays (excluding holidays) and between 8 am and 12 noon on Saturdays and Sundays.
Outpatients are welcome to come in during hours other that listed above, but there may be a significant wait for a technician or therapist to assist you due to their other duties in the hospital with emergencies and inpatients.
The Carotid Ultrasound is a procedure done on patients to look for
- blood clots
- narrowing of the arterial wall
- plaque build-up
This is a painless test that uses high-frequency sound waves that create pictures of the two large arteries in your neck to look for blood clots, narrowing of the arterial wall or plaque build up.
Comprehensive Cardiac CT Exams
The 64-slice CT is the Gold Standard for Coronary Artery Evaluation.
Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring
Cardiac CT Calcium Scoring is one of the simplest, yet most technologically advanced methods available to detect heart disease at its earliest stages. This test uses the leading-edge technology of our 64-slice CT machine to quickly and painlessly evaluate calcium build-up in your arteries.
The Cardiac CT Calcium Score exam does more than identify the likelihood of a heart attack, it can help prevent one. Since coronary artery disease often does not have symptoms until an episode occurs, knowing a Cardiac CT Calcium Score can help identify those who could benefit from preventive evaluation and treatment.
The first sign of coronary artery disease is calcification - calcium deposits in plaque on the walls of your arteries. Using high-speed computerized tomography (CT), the measurement of plaque and calcification produces a cardiac calcium score that quantifies your level of deposits and the risk of having a sudden cardiac event, such as a heart attack. If there is no plaque, the score and the risk are very low. If plaque is present and the calcium score is high, the risk of disease is higher.
As a screening tool, the Calcium Scoring test is easy, quick, non-invasive, requires no advance preparation or IV, and takes only 15 minutes.
What to Expect
When you come for your exam, the technologist will ask you to lie down on a comfortable table. He or she will then attach electrocardiogram (EKG) leads to your chest. The table will then be moved into a proper scanning position. The technologist will begin the scan. You will be in constant voice contact with the technologist throughout the procedure. As your CT scan proceeds, you may hear a whirring or fan-like sound and beeps as the machine takes pictures.
You will not feel the scan at all. Your job is to relax and lie as still as possible. The technologist will ask you occasionally to hold your breath. Once you are finished, the technologist will help you get off the table and you are ready to go home.
The test measures how much calcium is built up in the coronary arteries, which helps doctors determine who may be at risk for dangerous blockages of the arteries that could lead to a heart attack. The good news is that even if your doctor finds calcified plaque, in many cases it is possible to prevent the condition leading to a heart attack by diagnosing and treating the problem early. In cases of advanced plaque, the Cardiac CT Calcium Score test could stop a heart attack before it happens.
Cardiac CT Angiography Exam
Cardiac CT-A Scans can help diagnose:
- Coronary Artery Disease, thickening of the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle. When these arteries become blocked, the heart is deprived of oxygen and can become damaged. Severe cases can result in heart attack.
- Coronary Artery Stenosis, buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances which cause the narrowing of a coronary artery and over time may clog the artery.Because the exam involves greater exposure to radiation than an X-Ray, it is not for everyone. For those who are 50 or older, and who may have one or more risk factors for heart disease, it is a valuable tool for detecting problems or achieving peace of mind.
This examination will be monitored by Dr. Michael Stauder, Cardiologist or Dr. Benjamin Prentiss of Heywood Cardiology. Dr. Stauder or Dr. Prentiss will share the results with your Primary Care Provider.
For more information, contact the Director of Diagnostic Imaging and Cardiopulmonary Services at (978) 630-6444.
Laboratory Blood Work
Your primary care doctor or cardiologist will order blood tests to check total cholesterol and HDL and LDL levels, triglycerides and glucose.
An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This is a common test which allows your physician to see how your heart is beating and pumping blood. Images produced from your echocardiogram can help your physician diagnose valve problems, detect if the heart walls are moving, and review chamber valves. The standard procedure is non-invasive.
A Trans-esophageal echocardiogram or TEE, is a different way of performing an echocardiogram. This version of an echocardiogram uses a specialized probe that is entered into a patient’s esophagus. TEEs use high-frequency sound waves such as with ultrasounds to produce images. TEEs show the interior of heart valves and produce detailed images of a patient’s heart. A patient is under mild sedation during the procedure which lasts typically lasts between 20 and 30 minutes. Patients have a 1 hour recovery time post -procedure.
A stress test is used to gather information about how well your heart works during physical activity. During a stress test you will walk on a treadmill while your cardiologist will monitor your heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing.
Other types of testing
- Stress Echo
- Nuclear Stress Test
- Ultrasound event monitoring