Non-invasive cardiac tests can help identify heart conditions and track a patient’s progress after surgical or non-surgical treatments. At North Shore-LIJ, we provide a full spectrum of state-of-the-art non-invasive cardiac tests that include stress testing, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, holter monitoring, tilt table tests and cardiac CT scans. Depending on a patient’s symptoms and medical history, a physician will determine which test is most appropriate.
Our non-invasive cardiac tests include:
Stress Testing - A stress test can evaluate the heart during exercise and is often more revealing than a test conducted at rest. A stress test can help diagnose coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, vavular disease and arrhythmias. It can also evaluate cardiovascular physical fitness and measure the heart's response to medical or interventional treatments. There are several types of stress tests:
- Nuclear Stress Test - During a nuclear stress test, a small amount of radioactive substance is used to create a nuclear image that shows how well blood flows into the heart muscle, both at rest and during activity.
- Exercise Stress Test - This test examines the heart’s activity using continuous electrocardiographic monitoring while exercising on a treadmill.
- Stress Echocardiogram - A stress echocardiogram is a stress test that uses ultrasound images after a patient exercises.
Echocardiogram (Echo) - An echocardiogram uses ultrasound (or sound waves) to examine the heart’s chambers and valve function. It is sometimes used with a stress test to provide additional information needed to help diagnose coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, valve disease, arrhythmias and others. Audio and visual recording of the waves rebounding from the heart walls and valves indicate the size, shape, texture and function of these structures. The speed and direction of the blood flow also can be evaluated.
Our echocardiography labs use the newest technology including digital acquisition of the images. Highly trained technicians obtain images are reviewed and interpreted prior to the patient leaving the laboratory. If the images are not adequate, an echo contrast agent is used to obtain the highest quality of the pictures. Besides regular echocardiograms, we perform other procedures if ordered by a physician. These procedures can include transesphogeal echocardiograms, intra-cardiac echocardiograms, and stress echocardiograms.
Electrocardiogram (EKG) - An EKG is used to evaluate the electrical activity of the heart to identify evidence of a current or previous heart attack. Electrodes (small plastic patches) are placed at certain locations on the chest, arms and legs. The patches are connected by wires to a machine that interprets the heart’s electrical signals.
Holter Monitor Testing - A holter monitor is a machine that continuously records the heart's rhythm during normal activity to detect coronary artery disease and arrhythmias. The monitor is a battery-powered recording device with a strap that is worn over the shoulder or around the waist for 24-48 hours. The holter monitor has three wires (also known as leads) that attach to electrodes. The electrodes are placed on the chest to record the heart’s electrical impulses. The impulses are recorded for 24 hours and then reviewed by a physician.
Event Monitor Testing - Similar to a holter monitor, an event monitor is worn for prolonged monitoring, usually two to four weeks and records the heart’s rhythm.
Tilt Table Testing - Tilt table testing is usually performed when someone experiences a loss of consciousness or near fainting to help detect arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythms. During a tilt table test, the patient lies on a table that is moved from a horizontal to a vertical position. Changes in heart rate and blood pressure are monitored as the position changes.
Cardiac CT Scan - A computed tomography (CT) scan of the heart combines x-rays and advanced computer technology to rapidly produce 3-dimensional images of the beating heart. Using a cardiac CT scan, physicians are able to look at the heart’s structure, vessels, and circulation to detect coronary artery disease and defects in the heart.
640-Slice CT Scan - A 640-slice cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan uses an x-ray machine, contrast (a dye that shows up on x-rays to better see the blood vessels), and a computer to take clear, detailed pictures of your heart. North Shore University Hospital was one of the first hospitals in the country to have the 640-Slice CT scanner. Compared to older CT scanners, this scanner takes pictures of your heart in just one beat, resulting in a very fast scan time, less exposure to radiation and better image quality.
Carotid Doppler Study - A carotid doppler study is a test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the blood flow in the two large arteries in your neck. These arteries are called the carotid arteries. They supply your brain with blood. You have one carotid artery on each side of your neck. The study will look at the size of the arteries and the blood flow.
MUGA Scan - A muga scan is a test that is done to see how your heart pumps with each beat. You receive a radioactive isotope through an intravenous (IV), which “tags” your red cells in your blood. A special camera, called a gamma camera, scans and records the flow of blood through your heart. You are attached to an electrocardiogram, and computer software shows images of the heart as it is moving.
Transesophageal Echocardiogram - A Transesophageal Echocardiogram (“TEE”) is a test that uses sound waves to make moving pictures of your heart from inside of your food tube, or esophagus. A flexible tube with a probe at the end is guided down your throat and into your esophagus. This procedure allows for more detailed pictures of your heart than the standard transthoracic echocardiogram (which takes pictures from outside the chest.)