Diagnostic Testing and Screening

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Diagnostic Testing and Screening

University Heart specialists stay on the leading edge of techniques and research to understand and identify cardiovascular diseases as well as heart injuries and abnormalities. Most procedures are noninvasive, requiring only an office or outpatient visit, and the results help physicians determine individualized treatments to put patients on the path to a healthier life.

Cardiac and vascular ultrasound

Our highly trained and experienced sonographers and physicians use high-frequency sound waves to provide a detailed outline of the heart, allowing specialists to see and hear how the body’s largest organ is beating and pumping blood. Vascular ultrasounds are offered for adult and pediatric patients help evaluate blood flow through arteries and veins.

Cardiac catheterization

Another diagnostic tool is University Heart's state-of-the-art cardiovascular catheterization, which allows physicians to insert a thin catheter into an artery and advance it into the chambers of the heart or coronary arteries. In addition to the common femoral approach, University Heart cardiologists offer transradial access through the wrist, reducing risk of bleeding complications and recovery time. Diagnostic cardiac catheterization provides details about blood pressure in the heart, how much oxygen is in the blood, and how well the heart muscle is pumping.

Coronary artery calcium screening

Coronary artery calcium scoring, also referred to as a coronary calcium scan, uses computed tomography (CT) to look for calcium deposits, called calcifications, within the coronary arteries.

Arteries, which supply blood to the heart, do not normally contain any calcium. The calcium is a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD), also known as atherosclerosis.

This screening exam, offered by our University Heart specialty care team, can detect coronary artery disease even before symptoms, such as chest pain, are noticed. A calcium score can range from 0 to more than 400. A score of 80 or higher means you likely have heart disease. The higher the score, the greater the chances of having a heart attack compared to someone with a low score.

University Heart specialists may suggest calcium scoring if you have CAD risk factors, such as:

Results of the diagnostic scan may prompt you to make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, getting more exercise, and eating healthier, to prevent CAD or slow its progress. Doctors also may make treatment choices or order additional tests based on the scan results.

Electrocardiograms and ambulatory monitoring

University Heart offers many quick and painless screening tests to help doctors determine a patient’s cardiac condition. Among the more common are electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG), a simple test that produces a graph representing the heart’s immediate electrical activity for a few seconds. We also offer ambulatory monitoring that continuously measures impulses for 24 hours, allowing doctors to see how the heart reacts to activities such as sleep or exercise.

Conditions that may require ambulatory monitoring include:

  • Irregular heartbeats that occur intermittently or during certain activities
  • Chest pain, dizziness, or fainting, which may be symptoms of possible heart problems
  • Poor blood flow to your heart muscle