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Diagnostic tests and procedures for heart diseases

The echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart. Using standard ultrasound techniques, two-dimensional slices of the heart can be imaged. An echocardiogram is a painless procedure that uses sound waves and a computer to look at your beating heart. A device called a transducer sends high-frequency sound waves into your chest. The sound waves bounce (echo) off your heart. A computer uses the echoes to create a moving picture of the heart. Echocardiogram works well for most patients and allows doctors to see the heart beating and to visualize many of the structures of the heart.
Cardiac stress test
A cardiac stress test is performed to evaluate the ability of arterial blood flow to the left ventricular heart muscle, to increase with exercise, as compared to resting blood flow rates, and some indication of overall physical fitness. The test is not capable of detecting the presence/absence of the atheroma lesions of atherosclerosis, thus usually misses disease which most commonly produces future angina or heart attack events. Also, it is not designed to evaluate the presence or influences of emotional stresses, even though these probably play a role in heart attacks. The stress test is used to check both overall physical exercise capacity and is generally able to detect high grade, 75% or greater stenosis of the coronary arteries supplying the cardiac muscle.
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a painless process that records the heart's electrical activity. Small metal electrodes are placed on the person's wrists, ankles and chest. The electrical signals travel from the electrodes through wires to the EKG machine, which transforms the signals into patterns or waves. Different waves represent different areas of your heart through which electrical currents flow. These current cause the heart muscles to contract and relax. The P wave represents the current in the upper chambers of the heart (atria); the QRS complex represents current in the lower heart chambers (ventricles); and the T wave represents the heart's brief "rest period" as it recharges electrically (repolarizes) between heartbeats.
Electrophysiologic study
Electrophysiologic study of the heart is a test of the electrical conduction system of the heart (the system that generates the heart beat). EKG results may indicate that a patient is at high risk for an irregular heartbeat and need EPS to further study the heart rhythm. During EPS, the electrical activity of your heart is checked by recording it from the inside. During the test, the doctor looks for reasons why a patient may be having certain symptoms such as an irregular heartbeat. The test is performed by placing thin plastic tubes into a vein where the leg connects to the stomach. A local anesthetic is given as well as a mild sedative.
Sphygmomanometer (blood pressure cuff)
A sphygmomanometer is an inflatable cuff used to measure blood pressure. The word is derived from the Greek sphygmus (pulse), plus the scientific term manometer. A sphygmomanometer usually consists of an inflatable cuff, a measuring unit (the manometer), a tube to connect the two, and (in models that don't inflate automatically) an inflation bulb also connected by a tube to the cuff. The inflation bulb contains a one-way valve to prevent inadvertent leak of pressure while there is an adjustable screw valve for the operator to allow the pressure in the system to drop in a controlled manner. Sphygmomanometer is an instrument for measuring blood pressure, particularly in arteries.
IVUS (intravascular ultrasound)
Intravascular Ultrasound (IVUS) is a catheter-based technique, which provides real-time high-resolution images allowing precise tomographic assessment of lumen area, plaque size, and composition of a coronary segment, and therefore provides new insights into the diagnosis of and therapy for coronary disease. The arteries of the heart (the coronary arteries) have been the most frequent imaging target. IVUS is used in the coronary arteries to determine the amount of disease at any particular point in one of the coronary arteries regardless the presense or absence of any stenosis. Additionally, IVUS also facilites much more accurate measurement of the degree of stenosis of the opening of the coronary arteries than possible with angiography.

Topics in heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary circulation disorders
Myocardium disorders
Heart valve disorders
Arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms)
Heart inflammation and infection
Congenital heart disease
Valvular disease (blood vessels disorders)
Procedures done for coronary artery disease
Devices used in cardiology
Diagnostic tests and procedures for heart diseases
Heart transplant

Featured articles on heart disease and cardiovascular disorders

Coronary artery disease
Heart attack (myocardial infarction)
Cardiac arrhythmia
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Congestive heart failure
Aortic aneurysm
Atrial fibrillation

All information is intended for reference only. Please consult your physician for accurate medical advices and treatment. Copyright 2005,, all rights reserved. Last update: July 18, 2005